Toyota and its drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen are set to take on the high-speed snowy and icy stages of Rally Sweden. Car development and team progression remain the priority this season as opposed to rapid stage performances.
Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen and Latvala are triple winners of the rally, while Toyota also has three Rally Sweden victories to its name from the past. Latvala and Hänninen prepared for Rally Sweden with total of 5 days of testing in Central Finland.
Tommi Mäkinen said:
“We’ve had a very busy time since Monte Carlo, with snow testing and also travelling to Japan for the Toyota press conference. Sweden has fewer questions for us as we have some idea where we are now in terms of performance, but maybe the expectation is more given Jari-Matti’s second place. We have done a lot of testing on snow and also on gravel: this is really useful as well because the set-up for gravel is not so different than for snow. Of course, this is a very fast rally: actually even faster than Finland in many places. But we have found some high-speed roads for testing so we hope that we are quite well prepared.”
“We have to work on reliability as we had some small problems in Monte that were troubling Jari-Matti a little bit, but in general I am quite happy with this side of things as well. We know we still have a lot to learn and the target in Sweden, which should suit our drivers well, is to make more progress.”
Toyota’s team principal Mäkinen: We have to work on reliability as we had some small problems in Monte
Jari-Matti Latvala said:
“I have some very nice memories of Sweden. This was my first rally win, back in 2008. But the circumstances are very different now! I did some snow testing before Christmas with the Yaris WRC and last week as well. Even in that short time there have been some big improvements in the car and the whole team. This is the main aim as our target more than anything else this year is just to keep getting better.”
“The result in Monte was a very nice surprise. But I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the same in Sweden. We need to remember that this is still a completely new team and brand new project. So far the temperature in Sweden seems to be quite warm. We could find conditions similar to previous years, which are never easy. I hope we get some nice minus degrees soon, as that will provide the best show for everyone.”
Juho Hänninen said:
“I have done three days of testing on snow, with the aim of finding a good set-up. In Monte, I had a really good set-up before the start of the rally, which actually I did not change much. This was a key to finding good confidence with the car. I learned a lot from Monte. But as Sweden is so different, it’s really like starting over again. Of course it will depend a lot on the conditions. During the test we also tried to find roads that were a bit damaged so we could simulate what we might find on the rally and see how the car moves when the studs come out of the tyres.”
“I’m looking forward to the weekend. Sweden is one of the rallies I have done most. And of course the tyre choice is a lot simpler than it is on Monte. But we will still approach it in the same way, step by step, as our preparation time has not been big.”