Monday | 23 Jan 2023

Latvala: Monte dominance doesn't guarantee success in Sweden

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala is keeping his feet firmly on the ground despite the Japanese squad’s dominant performance at Rallye Monte-Carlo last week.

All four of Latvala’s GR Yaris Rally1 cars finished inside the top six at the season opener, with part-time driver Sébastien Ogier topping the standings to claim his record-breaking ninth Monte-Carlo victory.

Defending champion Kalle Rovanperä secured a Toyota 1-2, while Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta claimed fourth and sixth positions respectively. Collectively, they won 16 of the four-day fixture’s 18 stages.

But Latvala, who has led the team to two manufacturers’ titles, isn’t getting ahead of himself. The season resumes in less than three weeks’ time at Rally Sweden (9 – 12 February) – and the winter event represents a whole new challenge.

“I mean, Monte-Carlo was, I would say, the perfect rally for us,” Latvala admitted. “But just because you’re strong here, it doesn’t mean you can be the strongest in Sweden.

“Going onto the snow, it’s a difference surface. We know our drivers like snow, and I hope we can be strong there, but it’s not automatically [going to happen] because the surface is so different. The [car] set-up is very different when you’re driving on the Tarmac compared to the snow,” he added.

Ogier will not contest round two of the championship, meaning Katsuta steps up to make his points-scoring debut in the main team’s third car. Toyota will also run a privately entered GR Yaris for Italian privateer Lorenzo Bertelli at the Umeå event.

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