Mon 20 Feb 2023

Fowler still confident despite Toyota's Sweden setbacks

Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Tom Fowler says he’s not concerned by the team’s absence from the Rally Sweden podium.

The defending manufacturer champions made the perfect start to the season with a Rallye Monte-Carlo one-two for Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä, but the squad’s top three aspirations came up short in the snow earlier this month.

Rovanperä was the highest-placed finisher in fourth place, while Elfyn Evans struggled to make an impact on the leaderboard and Takamoto Katsuta crashed and was forced out of the opening day’s action.

Fowler pointed to set-up issues and world champion Rovanperä’s place opening the road on Friday as the reason for missing a second Toyota win.

“We saw Kalle drop more than 30 seconds in one stage on Friday,” said Fowler. “That was because he was running first on the road. Take that away and he’s right there and I believe he would have been battling for the win.

“It was a bit of a lottery when Kalle was first on the road. I’m very happy to accept if we got or when we get something wrong with the car, but I don’t think we did here. We didn’t. Our car is still strong and we’ll be ready for the next round in México.”

Toyota will not face the worst of the road cleaning in Mexico next month (16 - 19 March), with M-Sport driver Ott Tänak topping the table as the series crosses the Atlantic for the first time. Rovanperä will be second on the road, Evans fourth and Katsuta seventh into the Guanajuato stages.

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