Toyota Gazoo Racing was delighted to see winter finally arrive just in time for a pre-Christmas Rally Sweden test.
The Puuppola-based squad began its preparations for the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship last week, with all three factory drivers running a test Yaris at the firm’s permanent test site in Finland.
Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä all drove the Toyota for the first time in the French Alps earlier in December, but the Sweden test offered them a first glimpse into the car in a loose-surface set-up.
Evans said: “It was really useful to get a feel for the car in those conditions. And the conditions were good. Obviously, it was very much a gravel set-up in the car, so it’s not going to give us too much insight to what we’d need if it snows in Monte Carlo.
“It was a lot of fun to drive the car in the snow and great to be testing with the team again.”
A source in the team admitted the weather had worked in the team’s favour, adding: “Until just a couple of weeks ago, we’d been having a lot of rain and some really miserable weather. But then about a week or so ago the first snow started to come. It was a bit wet and not really ideal for Sweden, but then it came properly.
“Because of the rain, we’ve got a very good ice base and a lot of snow now – in some ways the conditions were actually too perfect for Sweden!”
Toyota will start February’s Torsby-based event chasing a third win in four years following Jari-Matti Latvala’s win in 2017 and Ott Tänak’s maiden snow success last season.