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Tue 27 Jun 2023

Kenya proved Toyota’s reliability, says Latvala

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Safari Rally Kenya dominance dispelled any questions surrounding the strength of its GR Yaris cars, team principal Jari-Matti Latvala says.

Concerns were raised over the how the Japanese manufacturer would fare in Kenya, arguably the roughest fixture on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, after several of its drivers bore the brunt of radiator damage sustained in water crossings at the previous round in Italy.  

Barring a minor blip for Elfyn Evans, when the Welshman’s car briefly lost power after a splash on Saturday morning, there were no further water-inflicted dramas.

“In Sardinia there were difficult conditions and it was not normal to have so many water splashes,” Latvala pointed out, “and, yes, there were things we needed to improve. But of course, I think the conditions were a bit extreme there.

“We learned how we need to approach coming to Kenya and how we need to approach the water splashes, and I think this was the only problem we had in Sardinia. We knew otherwise that the car is strong and we showed it here.”

Locking out the leading quartet in Africa for the second consecutive year, Latvala attributed Toyota’s success to the team's steadfast philosophy when approaching the gruelling fixture.

“When we won this 1-2-3-4 last year I thought it was something that takes decades to win, but it happened one year later,” smiled the Finn. “Coming with the right philosophy has achieved this result.

Safari Rally Kenya 2023: Event Highlights

“What I can say is we have an excellent team of people, a reliable and strong car, and then we have the drivers who have the patience in this event to drive a clever way, which is a combination of driving fast but also slowing down for the rough places and understanding the history of this event.”

Toyota now heads Hyundai Motorsport by 48 points in manufacturers’ championship after round seven of 13.