TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will accelerate development of its Yaris World Rally Car next week as test driver Esapekka Lappi makes his second championship appearance of the year.
The Finn will take the wheel of a test and development-spec Yaris at Rally Italia Sardegna (8 - 11 June) where, for the second event in a row, he will join Toyota regulars Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen.
“Sardinia has always been one of those rallies that is more about survival than raw speed: I just want to have a problem-free rally and get to the finish. I think I’m going to be trying some new parts on the car, so my job is to collect data for the team and gain more experience,” he said.
Lappi impressed on his first outing in the Yaris at Vodafone Rally de Portugal last month [see below], where he finished in tenth place and claimed fourth-fastest time on the Power Stage.
But having regularly outpaced his more experienced team-mates in Portugal, Lappi denied he was feeling any pressure to do the same on Sardinia's notoriously fast and narrow gravel stages.
"We had a good result in Portugal, but that only alters the expectations from other people: it doesn’t make any difference to me personally," said Lappi, who has tackled the Mediterranean rally twice before.
As Toyota continues to develop its Yaris WRC challenger in its debut season, team boss Tommi Makinen stressed the importance of stage mileage.
“I would like to see three cars at the finish and if we can score some points as well, then even better. We’ve got a good development plan for Sardinia, with Esapekka as well, but the most important thing is to do the mileage so that we can learn as much as possible,” he said.