The Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team complete their debut FIA World Rally Championship season this week at Rally Australia, the end of a campaign in which development of the new Yaris WRC has been a top priority.
Driving duties will be undertaken by Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi. Kaj Lindström, who has competed with the team this year as co-driver to Juho Hänninen, will be taking on his new role as the team’s Sporting Director
The event is contested on gravel stages featuring a combination of tight and twisty forest tracks and fast, flowing sections across open countryside. Roadside trees can catch out the unwary and hanging dust trails can be an additional hazard.
Latvala said: “It’s a nice event to finish the year, usually in warm conditions and sunshine. The stages are fast and flowing and it’s a rally that I have pretty much always enjoyed. This year there will be some new sections and parts that have not been used for a long time. On Rally GB we struggled slightly but I think the Yaris WRC should be well-suited to the stages in Australia. Personally I want to go out there and really push for the podium, and if we could challenge for the victory that would be even better.”
The rally is based in the coastal city of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. Friday morning’s action begins to the north with three new-look stages, with a repeat run in the afternoon. Both Friday and Saturday conclude with a super special stage on the seafront at Coffs Harbour. The rest of Saturday’s running is to the south, including the 30-mile Nambucca stage; this test is divided into two sections for the second, afternoon pass. Five stages are scheduled for Sunday with the second run through Wedding Bells forming the event’s Power Stage.
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round 12:
1 Sebastien Ogier 215 (champion)
2 Thierry Neuville 183
3 Ott Tanak 169
4 Jari-Matti Latvala 136
5 Elfyn Evans 118
6 Dani Sordo 95
7 Juho Hänninen 71
8 Kris Meeke 70
9 Craig Breen 64
10 Hayden Paddon 59
12 Esapekka Lappi 51
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round 12:
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 398 (champions)
2 Hyundai Motorsport 305
3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 241
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 210