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Tue 06 Jun 2023

Latvala addresses Toyota water splash worries

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has had his say on the challenges faced by several of his GR Yaris drivers at last week’s Rally Italia Sardegna.

The cars of Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta all sustained radiator damage in water crossings during the four-day Mediterranean island fixture, with Katsuta forced into retirement on Friday as a consequence.

Acknowledging the issues, Latvala - an accomplished 18-time WRC rally winner himself - stated that while the team would thoroughly investigate the incidents, driver technique could also have played a role.

Interestingly, championship leader Kalle Rovanperä, who clinched a commendable third overall in his Toyota, did not encounter similar problems. It marked the Finn’s best result in Italy, an event which has not previously been kind to his team.

“We had this problem with the water splashes, but I can't say that everything is because of the car,” he explained. “We also need to look maybe a little bit that we haven't been having water splashes in the [pre-event] tests, so to see for the drivers a bit how we approach them.

“There we can also I think improve a bit for the future, to take a bit of practice on the best way to approach it because Kalle didn't have any issues this weekend.”

Toyota, similarly to rival teams, did not carry out a pre-event test for Rally Italia Sardegna and is also unlikely to test before the next round at Safari Rally Kenya (22 - 25 June), which is renowned for its rough conditions and water crossings.

When asked whether the Japanese marque would look to make any updates to its cars before the African event, Latvala said: “Homologation wise, when you develop the bumper and everything, I don't think you can, but of course we can try to simulate it and understand at which kind of speed it happens, and also the angle is always affecting.”

With Hyundai Motorsport securing a double podium in Italy through Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi, Toyota's championship lead has now been narrowed to just 23 points after round 6 of 13. The pressure is mounting as both manufacturers vie for the top spot in the standings.