Friday | 12 Mar 2021

Latvala rues Toyota’s Arctic set-up mistake

Jari-Matti Latvala feels Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Arctic Rally Finland fate was sealed when it tested in conditions quite different to those experienced during last month’s second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

While second-placed Kalle Rovanperä moved to the top of the drivers’ standings in Lapland and Toyota maintained its position at the head of the makes’ race, the result wasn’t as strong as at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.

In the French Alps, four Yaris WRCs placed in the top six and Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans finished first and second.

At home in Finland, Toyota was second, fifth (Evans) and sixth (Takamoto Katsuta) and team principal Latvala believes his team’s chances of winning in Rovaniemi were hindered by pre-event testing.

“I think we were a little bit on the unlucky side,” said Latvala. “We were testing in conditions around -20°C, then when we came to the event it was closer to zero in the temperature.

“Hyundai was doing this rally in the week before Rovaniemi and I think the temperature for them was a little bit more similar to Arctic Rally Finland.

"We looked and this is where the mistake was coming. The car needs a different set-up for the very, very icy conditions – and when you have nearer to zero temperatures then the stud is going through the ice easily, biting in and giving good grip. This wasn’t where our set-up was.”

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None of the Toyota drivers were 100% happy with the car and Ogier, series leader coming into the event, made a rare mistake and buried his Yaris in a snowbank on the final corner of Saturday. The Frenchman finished out of the points as a result.

“We have to be thankful to Kalle,” added Latvala. “His result helped to keep us to the top of the championship. Of course, we were disappointed not to win our home rally on home soil.

“Now we look forward to Croatia and the next round. We are already working on our preparations for that event.”

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