Tanak reckons Friday will be critical in Portugal

Tanak reckons Friday will be critical in Portugal

Ott Tanak
photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Toyota will take on Rally Portugal with the aim of continuing the momentum gathered with its recent victory in Argentina. Ott Tanak – who in South America claimed his first win since joining the team – Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala all head to Portugal confident in the progress that has been made with the development of the Toyota Yaris WRC, as demonstrated in Argentina.

“We certainly go to Portugal with a good feeling. We obviously know just how well the car can perform. Everything felt good too in our pre-event test, where we were just trying to find some more improvements and even better performance. Portugal has always been one of my favourite events. It’s always really nice to go there: there is a great atmosphere.”

“It is also the place where everything started for me in the WRC in 2009”, Tanak commented

“Our aim is to perform as well as in Argentina, but let’s see how it goes. I think Friday will be critical with our road position: we have two cars in front of us so we will have some lines to follow, but normally the cleaning has more of an effect in Portugal. It is important to get another strong result for the championship: we closed the gap a bit in Argentina and now we aim to do the same in Portugal.”

Ott Tanak
photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Team principal Tommi Mäkinen also pointed out that the confidence is pretty high after Tanak’s success in Argentina

“It sounds like we had a good pre-event test and that everything went well there. I am feeling really confident that we can have another strong performance in Portugal because the conditions there are very similar to Argentina. I won twice in Portugal during my career and I would say that it is a slightly easier rally, or at least it is not quite so tricky, mostly because it is not so rocky. You don’t have to be quite as accurate with the driving as in Argentina. They are both fast rallies, but in Portugal, I would say there is a bit more room to play with. Therefore, normally it should be not as challenging, but of course, it is always challenging when you are trying to fight for the win. Still, I am sure we can have another good rally”, Mäkinen added.

Jari-Matti Latvala was sure there were positives to take from Argentina although his race ended early

He believes the Yaris WRC will be strong in Portugal.

“It is quite a similar rally to Argentina, with the main differences being that the surface is smoother and the roads are a bit more flowing. Therefore, I see no reason why the car shouldn’t work well in Portugal. We had two days of pre-event testing there and I am really happy with how that went. I had our test driver Juho Hänninen with me during the test: we were working together to fine-tune the car and I am really pleased with how the car feels”, the Finn explained.

Esapekka Lappi
photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Esapekka Lappi started to compete in WRC in Portugal last year

Thus he thinks everything should be a little bit easier from this point onwards.

“In the first part of the season there were ups and downs, but I was pretty surprised with how good the speed was on some events. There were many positives and we just need to try to learn from the negative moments and be better in the second half of the year. It is going to help to have already done the upcoming rallies with this car. That is especially true for Portugal as it will be basically the same roads as last year. Argentina was already good from a car setup point of view, but I think we still made a small step forward on the pre-event test. I am pretty confident this time to start to push from the first stage: the approach will be different to Argentina”, Lappi said.