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Mon 30 Jan 2023

Bertelli gets to grips with new Yaris

Lorenzo Bertelli has tested Toyota Gazoo Racing’s GR Yaris Rally1 ahead of his debut with the car at next week’s Rally Sweden (9 - 12 February)

Bertelli will become the first privateer to drive one of Toyota’s title-winning GR Yaris cars when he takes to the start in Umeå next week, the base of the FIA World Rally Championship’s second round.

He visited Toyota’s WRC headquarters in Jyväskylä, Finland, late last week and tested the car on snow and ice over the weekend. His first impressions were positive, with the Italian admitting he was surprised by how easy he found the transition from the M-Sport Ford Puma he drove last year.

“For sure, I was expecting a fast car,” Bertelli said, “because of course this is a world championship-winning car. I expected it to be maybe not as easy to drive as the Ford, because the Ford is generally very famous for being quite easy to be driven.

“I have been surprised positively because, actually, the [Yaris] was very agile and not nervous at all, and also very easy to drive. To get all those components together in a rally car is not so easy, so I have been impressed by how quickly I became comfortable in the car.”

Bertelli made his FIA World Rally Championship debut in 2011 with a Group N Mitsubishi and worked his way up the classes, eventually moving into a top-flight Ford Fiesta World Rally Car at the beginning of 2015.

The 34-year-old secured a career-best result of seventh overall on his sole Rally1 start last year in New Zealand but has been unable to make regular appearances in recent seasons due to business commitments. He is closely involved in the family business - luxury fashion label Prada - and works within the firm as an executive director.

Quizzed on his future plans, Bertelli suggested he may do at least one other rally this season.

“I like fast rallies and Sweden is probably my favourite rally of all. I’m really looking forward to it because I love the snow and I love Sweden in general.

“I’m trying to see if there is an opportunity to do another event this year. I need to investigate whether it’s possible with my ordinary job because I am always quite busy. For me this is like taking holidays - it’s not so easy - but I am working on it, so let’s see if I will have another opportunity.”

Toyota will run three additional Yaris cars in Sweden for works drivers Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta.