Tuesday | 19 Jan 2021

From team-mate to team boss: Latvala confident in Toyota squad

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s new team principal is more than confident in his drivers’ abilities to deliver the goods at this weekend’s WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo (21 - 24 January).

The Latvala name is synonymous with rallying and understandably so. With an eye-watering 209 WRC starts to his name, Jari-Matti knows just what it takes to be successful at this level. 

Latvala's full-time driving career came to an end after 2019, spanning no less than 18 career victories with a further 49 podiums with manufacturers including M-Sport Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota. 

Rallying runs through the Finn’s veins, so it was only a matter of time before he found himself back in the sport’s top flight, albeit in a slightly different seat. Shortly after previous team principal Tommi Mäkinen announced his departure, Latvala received an interesting call…

"I received a phone call at the very end of November and they said to me they’d been thinking... would I be the team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing?” he told WRC TV. 

JARI-MATTI LATVALA: NEW TEAM PRINCIPAL AT TOYOTA GAZOO RACING

"I had to think about it for 30 seconds. When you are a driver, you think as a driver, and you think you would still like to drive. But then on the other hand, you have a great job offer which can come once in a lifetime. So for sure I had to go for it and decide I don't drive any more in the WRC."

A great opportunity no doubt, but with new responsibilities come new challenges. Latvala is under no illusions the move will be a big step, but remains confident ahead of the season opener. 

Along with Finnish hotshot Kalle Rovanperä and 2020 runner-up Elfyn Evans, Monte-Carlo expert Sébastien Ogier will lead the Yaris charge when the rally gets going on Thursday afternoon. 

The seven-time world champion knows his new boss better than many thanks to their stint as team-mates at Volkswagen from 2013 - 2016.

"I don’t know if this has ever happened before in the WRC,” Latvala smiled.

Monte-Carlo countdown - rally route

Monte-Carlo countdown - rally route

The shortest Rallye Monte-Carlo (21 - 24 January) ever remains the most unpredictable WRC round of the year, as the potential for ...

Read More

“You have been ex-teammates, then suddenly one of them is team principal for the other guy. It's quite a unique situation, but we have a very good relationship with Seb and we have worked very many years together.

"He is so professional; he has won the titles. In fact, I don’t need to tell him anything - he knows how to win a championship. He has done it so many times and he knows what the team needs, so I think that is a very easy job for me!"

Full coverage from Rallye Monte-Carlo will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.