Saturday | 04 Dec 2021

Toyota boss heartened by hybrid development

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala is happy with his team’s progress towards next season’s new-look hybrid-powered FIA World Rally Championship.

Although Elfyn Evans derailed the Finnish-based squad’s testing when he crashed the GR Yaris WRC Rally1 in France last month, the car will be back on the road next week.

That disruption didn’t spoil Latvala’s satisfaction with the new hybrid kit, less than seven weeks’ out from its competition debut.

“What I’m really happy with is the functionality of the hybrid system. It is working pretty well at the moment so this is the most important thing for next year’s championship,” he said.

Video: WRC season review 2021

It’s at next week’s test where eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier will get his first taste of hybrid power ahead of the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (20 - 23 January).

“I have to say that I’m pretty satisfied where we are,” said Latvala. “We had to stop the test when Elfyn crashed because we didn’t have enough of the parts to fix the car with us at the test. This is because we’re still so busy making the new parts for the new car.

“The timing is going to be tough and, for sure, we don’t have any extra time, and we can’t waste any time. All the driving is really important and we’re looking forward to seeing what Sébastien’s feelings are for the car.”

As homologation for the 2022 GR Yaris looms, Latvala admitted there would be big decisions to be made.

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“That will, for me, be one of the hardest things,” he said. “The decision what you make now with the Rally1 car, for instance, with the differential ramps – you can only homologate one and then you have to use the whole season the one ramp.

“Do you have enough data that this is the best for all the stages, all the surfaces? It’s quite a difficult choice what you have to make.

“And if you haven’t been testing enough, it can force you a problem later in the season when you have a wrong compromise. So that is making it hard because we have to put a lot of testing in a short period of time.

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