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Thu 12 May 2022

Finland snow hinders gravel test plans

Snow isn’t exactly something you would expect to be talking about when you mention pre-event testing for Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May).

But it has been a factor for both Toyota Gazoo Racing and Hyundai Motorsport ahead of next week’s maiden gravel FIA World Rally Championship round of the season.

Both teams have their test base on the dirt roads of central Finland and both have been hit by an unusually long winter.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala said: “We’ve had so much snow this year, it’s going to be quite late in May before the roads are dry and we can make more testing on the gravel. It's been a long winter and a tough one if we try to make the gravel test.”

Technical director Tom Fowler added: “We couldn’t do any gravel running in time for Portugal – even if the snow is gone, the roads were quite frozen underground.

“That means they’re not much use for us. Those kind of conditions are good for the winter rally, but unless we start using the studded tyre in Portugal, it doesn’t make so much sense to test for Portugal!”

Both Toyota and Hyundai should have their test roads back in gravel-specification soon and will be able to start fast and loose running soon after next week’s Matosinhos-based fourth round of the WRC.

The two teams tested in Portugal following last month’s Croatia Rally. Hyundai’s work in the week after the Zagreb-based event was held on wet roads, while conditions for Toyota were drier at the start of May.

• Full coverage from Vodafone Rally de Portugal will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park

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