The Toyota Gazoo Racing team is counting on technical improvements to its Yaris WRC and its drivers' previous winning records to lift its recent gravel form at the upcoming YPF Rally Argentina (27 - 30 April).
After a strong start to the year, and a surprise win at the second round in Sweden, team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen had problematic runs to sixth and seventh place respectively at last month's Rally Guanajuato México, the debut gravel event for the new Yaris.
Since then, both drivers have taken part in a pre-event test in Sardinia, on roads that were representative of the mixed gravel conditions found in Argentina.
Team boss Tommi Mäkinen, a three-time Rally Argentina winner himself (with Mitsubishi in 1996, 1997 and 1998), said progress had been made: "We learned many useful things from Mexico in particular, with the gravel and high altitude, which will be useful for Argentina. We've been improving the car with every rally, so our goal is to see another improvement in Argentina. I think we're in a stronger position now than we were going into Mexico, so we can aim for a good result," he said.
As well as Mäkinen's winning perspective on the WRC's Argentinean round, both his drivers have also climbed the top step of the podium. Latvala took victory in 2014, while Hänninen won in 2010 when the event was not part of the WRC schedule but instead belonged to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
"I've always had a very good feeling with Rally Argentina," explained Latvala. "We've won it before, and even last year we were leading until we had a problem and went off on Saturday afternoon. [Since Mexico] I have been working on the differential settings in particular: I didn't feel that they were the best for me in Mexico, so that is something I really wanted to improve for Argentina, and we have some good solutions now."
Hänninen also admitted to fond memories of the rally. "I'm really looking forward to getting back there after many years away as it's one of my favourite gravel rallies," he said.