Jari-Matti Latvala believes his Toyota Gazoo Racing squad is well-placed to fight at the front of the WRC’s only mixed surface encounter in Spain this week.
After strong performances on gravel and asphalt at the last two rounds, the Finn feels his Yaris World Rally Car can shine when the two surfaces come together at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España (5 - 8 October).
Esapekka Lappi claimed the squad’s second victory of the season two rounds ago on Finland’s fast gravel. Juho Hänninen finished fourth on Germany’s asphalt in the most recent event, when all three Toyota drivers won stages.
“I like the combination in Spain of having the first day on gravel and then two days on asphalt. They are the best asphalt roads in the championship, as close to a race circuit as is possible, and the gravel stages are also quite good,” said Latvala.
“Our car showed winning speed on gravel in Finland and the performance was also there on asphalt in Germany, so I believe we should be very competitive.”
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen admitted Latvala’s experience of the Salou-based rally would play a key role as Toyota tackles a mixed surface fixture for the first time since its return to the WRC after a 17-year absence.
“Spain will be something completely unknown for me, as I have never driven the rally like it is nowadays with a mix of gravel and asphalt. I don’t know what to expect personally, but of course Jari-Matti knows the challenges very well.
“We have been making some good steps forward with the car and I hope that with more new items and new ideas, we can make some small improvements again in Spain,” said Makinen.
Latvala tested for two days in Spain last week, focusing on the Yaris’ suspension set-up on asphalt and differential settings on dirt.
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