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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Latvala to make WRC comeback at Rally Finland

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The 18-time WRC rally winner will forsake his function as Toyota WRC group principal for a weekend to pilot a fourth GR Yaris on the gravel rally, alongside reigning world champion Kalle Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta.

It is going to be the Finn’s first rally behind the wheel of a Rally1 automobile and his first WRC occasion since Rally Sweden in 2020, when he drove a privately-run Toyota Yaris with Juho Hanninen performing as co-driver. Toyota check driver Hanninen will as soon as once more occupy the co-driver seat for this newest WRC Rally1 outing. 

Latvala, who retired from full-time driving within the WRC in 2019 earlier than taking on the Toyota group principal function forward of the 2021 season, has remained lively as a driver, competing in a number of historic rallies. 

Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda is ready to take up the group principal function for Rally Finland with (3-6 August) whereas Latvala is competing.    

“Effectively the story began I believe after the tip of the 2022 season, once I was in Japan and speaking with Morizo, our Chairman,” mentioned Latvala. 

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“I mentioned that I had the dream to expertise a Rally1 automobile, as a result of over the past 20 years I’ve skilled all of the World Rally Vehicles and all of the evolutions of those automobiles, however I’ve no expertise of Rally1, and I want to expertise it earlier than I’m 40 years {old}. So this yr or 2024 or 2025. 

“And Morizo mentioned ʻyes, we have to do it, letʼs do it!ʼ However we didnʼt agree after we would do it. However then for this season we’ve had this fourth automobile accessible for lease, and abruptly to start with of the yr already, Akio mentioned ʻhmm, we will do it this yr, letʼs do it this yr!ʼ 

“Then he additionally mentioned he’ll come to Rally Finland, and we thought possibly this may be a good suggestion. Akio mentioned I can drive, and I mentioned to Akio, ʻthen you might be Group Principalʼ. That was the way it was agreed.” 

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: Tomek Kaliński

Latvala is anticipated to conduct a check day within the GR Yaris Rally1 earlier than lining up for Rally Finland, and is aiming for a high 10 end within the rally.

“I’ve to say that it feels slightly bit unreal and I begin to be barely nervous, as a result of driving in Finland, I might say itʼs a privilege,” he added. 

“When itʼs your property spherical and itʼs the most effective rallies within the championship, the sentiments and the feelings are actually excessive. I do know that itʼs going to be troublesome I believe to get any high consequence as a result of that is my first time with a Rally1 automobile. 

“I havenʼt been in a top- degree automobile since 2019, so for 4 years. However the thought is to take pleasure in and have a superb time over the weekend, and thatʼs the goal: that we will smile after each stage.

“Like I mentioned, my goal is to have a smile after each stage, and result-wise if we’re someplace between top-five and top-10, then Iʼll be actually completely happy. Then we’ve had a pleasant weekend. 

“I’ll go together with one check day, soar into the automobile after which do the occasion instantly. It’s not really easy to get into the automobile solely with one check day. 

“However anyway, that is extra in regards to the expertise and about having fun with it. I’m not constructing a brand new profession as a driver.”

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