Tue 15 Feb 2022

Lappi returns as Toyota quartet completes Sweden prep

Toyota Gazoo Racing has concluded its Rally Sweden testing with technical director Tom Fowler declaring himself happy with the progress made.

The Japanese manufacturer is chasing a Rally Sweden hat-trick and a fourth win in five starts at the nation’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, which leaves its traditional Värmland base to move north to Umeå for the first time.

Current team principal Jari-Matti Latvala bagged Toyota’s first win at only the second rally of its WRC return in 2017. Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans added further victories in 2019 and 2020 before last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The rally marks Esapekka Lappi’s return to the factory team for the first time since 2018 and the Finn joined team-mates Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and Next Generation squad driver Takamoto Katsuta for their final preparations last week.

“The test was successful,” said Fowler. “We tested in Finland after [Rallye] Monte-Carlo and that was the first time we’d run the full hybrid car in cold conditions.

“It [Finand test] was OK, we had no issues. Obviously there was a little bit of tuning work to do, a little bit of adaptation, but nothing dramatic. We were testing in temperatures between 0°C and -10°C, I think that’s a representative window for what we’ll work in next week.

“The Finland test wasn’t completely ideal in terms of conditions – we’ve had a lot of snow in Finland recently and there was a lot on that test. It wasn’t ideal for a performance test.”

Sweden provided drier conditions and a change to dial the Yaris Rally1 into what’s needed for round two.

“We did our four days in Sweden and it all went smoothly,” added Fowler. “It was good to have Esapekka back in the car – we made good progress.”

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