Mäkinen aims for better

Toyota Gazoo Racing boss Tommi Mäkinen believes lessons learned from his squad’s Argentine debut last year will deliver improved performance at this weekend’s rally.

The 2017 event was the first traditional gravel encounter for the Yaris World Rally Car after Mexico’s specialised high-altitude fixture two months earlier. Jari-Matti Latvala finished fifth after overheating problems while a lack of power consigned Juho Hänninen to seventh.

Mäkinen is sure Latvala, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi will improve at the four-day YPF Rally Argentina, which starts on Thursday night, on the back of a year’s experience and a strong pre-event test.

“I am sure we will go better in Argentina this year than we did last year, as we learned a lot from there last year and, of course, over the whole course of the year since then,” explained Mäkinen, whose team is third in the WRC manufacturers’ points.

“Our car is improving all the time, and it’s always easier when you go to a rally for the second time. However, it’s also true that our rivals are stronger than ever, so I think everyone will start the rally on a very equal footing, which should make it a nice battle.”

On location testing is banned for rallies outside Europe so Toyota journeyed to Sardinia in search of conditions which replicate the South American roads as closely as possible.

“I think they are quite representative. In Argentina you have many different types of road surface – some soft, some hard, some with rocks, some quite clean – and adapting to them all is probably the biggest challenge.

“Hopefully, with the latest improvements we have brought to the car, it can be strong under all those different circumstances and on different roads. This is our aim,” he added.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from YPF Rally Argentina, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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