Team claims manufacturers' title in second season since return to the WRC
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 5, 2018: GAZOO Racing World Rally Team recently claimed the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) manufacturers' title in style, with a rally victory for Jari-Matti Latvala in the No. 7 Toyota Yaris WRC at Kennards Hire Rally Australia. Esapekka Lappi finished fourth in the No. 9 Toyota Yaris WRC to enable GAZOO Racing to clinch the manufacturers' crown in just the second season since its return to the WRC.
GAZOO Racing World Rally Team's Toyota Yaris WRC machines demonstrated their strong performance during the final round of the season, with Ott Tänak and Latvala moving to the top of the leaderboard on the fourth and final day of the race. The victory sealed GAZOO Racing's fourth manufacturers' title in the WRC and its first since 1999.
Latvala, along with co-driver Miikka Anttila in the No. 7 Toyota Yaris WRC avoided mistakes and took three stage wins on the final day to clinch the team's fifth win of 2018 by 32.5 seconds. Lappi also won a stage to complete a strong drive in his final event before departing the team. Latvala and Lappi finished the season fourth and fifth respectively in the driver's standings, with both contributing significantly towards the manufacturers' title.
Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Team Chairman, said: 'Congratulations to Jari-Matti and Miikka for the Rally Australia win! I was very glad to see them on the top of the podium at the end of the year after what has sometimes been a tricky season. And with this victory, we could win the manufacturers' title. I feel so proud, as Team Chairman, that we could achieve such a great result in the second year of our challenge after returning to the WRC after being away for 18 years. I am so grateful to Tommi, who has kept strengthening the Yaris WRC to win this title, all the team members who supported Tommi, and the six drivers and co-drivers who kept driving the Yaris towards our goal. Thank you very much and congratulations! I also feel glad that we could share this victory with the fans who kept cheering for us, and also our partners who have fought with us as one team. I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to them for supporting us.'
Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, said: 'It's an absolutely amazing feeling today. This was the toughest final round of a season that I can remember, and it was absolutely brilliant that Jari-Matti could win again. Esapekka also helped us score the points we needed. We started this project three-and-a-half years ago and we have developed much faster than we imagined. Last year we were here to learn and to gather data. In the second half of this season we were able to find a lot of improvements with the car. This is the result of the huge effort from everybody in the team, and I am sure this success will just further motivate us all to continue improving in 2019.'
Jari-Matti Latvala, Driver of No. 7 Toyota Yaris WRC, said: 'I am so happy to win again. It was quite a relief after such a long time! The conditions today were incredibly demanding, and it would have been very easy to go off the road. I was very excited and nervous at the start of the final stage, but we managed to do it. To win the manufacturers' title is fantastic. I am so proud of the team and what they have created. Everybody has worked so hard and they deserve this reward!'
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota's participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GAZOO Racing (GR), to consolidate all of its motorsports activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota's belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,' GR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota's commitment to making ‘ever-better' cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of various motorsports events, GR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
- No. 7 Toyota Yaris WRC (Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila)
- Position: 1st
- Time: 2h 59m 52s
- No. 9 Toyota Yaris WRC (Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm)
- Position: 4th
- Time: 3h 00m 54.3s