Monday | 15 Nov 2021

Latvala on the verge of Toyota’s ‘dream’ treble

Less than 12 months ago Jari-Matti Latvala’s zest for competition was fuelled by a handful of outings in his historic-specification Toyota Celica GT-4 in his native Finland.

This week Latvala stands on the cusp of guiding Toyota Gazoo Racing to a clean sweep of top-level FIA World Rally Championship titles to provide the perfect end to the World Rally Car generation for the Japanese manufacturer.

Two of the three championships are done deals for the man who, with his full-time driving career at an end, replaced Tommi Mäkinen as team principal of the Finnish-based squad last December.

Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia and team-mates Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin go head-to-head at FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza (18 - 21 November) to decide which Yaris World Rally Car crew will claim the drivers’ and co-drivers’ honours.

It would take a disaster of mind-blowing proportions for Toyota not to add the manufacturers’ crown to the tally and complete what Latvala admits would be a fantasy season.

Evans' win in Finland propelled the Welshman back into the title battle against team-mate Ogier

“We’re excited to go to Monza with a great chance to secure all three championship titles, something which has been our dream to achieve,” acknowledged Latvala, who drove for the squad for three years.

“It would be the perfect way for us to finish the World Rally Car era and the last race for our Yaris WRC that debuted in 2017, when I was one of the drivers.

“I hope that everything will go to plan and we will be able to clinch the manufacturers’ championship, but in motorsport we know that nothing is certain until you’ve reached the finish.”

Toyota leads Hyundai Motorsport by 47 points with 52 available. The crown will be secured if either Ogier, Evans or Kalle Rovanperä finish inside the top seven at the asphalt fixture.

The final round drivers’ duel between Ogier and Evans is a repeat of 2020. On that occasion, Ogier overturned a 14-point deficit to clinch a seventh crown when Evans plunged down a bank after being caught out on a snowy mountain corner.

Video: WRC greatest season finales

Latvala’s fervent hope is that this year’s battle is decided on the asphalt rather than in the undergrowth.

“We look forward to seeing a fair fight between Sébastien and Elfyn to decide the drivers’ title,” he added.

“Rally Monza was a very difficult event last year with the snow and the rain, and already during our pre-event testing in Italy the conditions were tricky with quite a bit of rain, so I expect it to provide a challenging finale once again.”

• Full coverage from FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza 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.

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