Friday focus for Toyota in Corsica
Toyota Gazoo Racing boss Tommi Mäkinen believes a strong run through Friday's marathon opening day at Corsica linea - Tour de Corse [28 – 31 March] will be vital to success.
This route of the season's first pure asphalt round has a new start location in Porto-Vecchio in the south of the island, where two loops of three stages will be held on Friday with no service until the end of the day.
And with no chance to make serious set-up changes before 121 stage kilometres are complete, Mäkinen wants drivers Ott Tänak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke to be able to push hard from the start.
"With so many corners and really long stages, you need to have full confidence in the car, otherwise you can lose a lot of time. That is why it is very important to get the setup right," Mäkinen explained.
"This year, that will be especially true on Friday because there isn't a proper service in the middle of the day to make big changes. But I know that our team has been preparing as well as possible and hopefully we can have another strong weekend.”
Toyota heads to Corsica leading the drivers' and manufacturers' championships, and hoping to build on a good performance last year when Tänak was second and the Yaris WRC claimed a total of seven stage wins.
"We will go to Corsica feeling optimistic about our chances," Mäkinen said. "It is a very challenging rally, as I found out many times when I was driving, but our drivers have all shown they can be fast there."
All three drivers tested last week, and 2015 Corsica winner Latvala was pleased with the progress made.
"I had a good test: We did 200 kilometres and tried a lot of things, not only for this rally but also development for the future," Latvala said.
"On Rallye Monte Carlo I struggled with understeer, so we worked on that and improved the turning, as well as the braking, and I'm feeling more confident with the car.”