Tue 11 Jul 2023

Mid-season Review: Toyota Gazoo Racing

It’s hard to imagine how the first half Toyota’s 2023 FIA World Rally Championship campaign could have gone better – beyond a stronger Sweden and Sébastien Ogier’s foot not slipping off the brake pedal in Sardinia.

Five wins from seven starts, a 48-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship, the top three places in the drivers’ standings is the very definition of a successful start to the season. And the bad news for Toyota’s rivals? We’re just coming into the two events which have to rank as the rallies where the GR Yaris is at its most comfortable.

Fast gravel is food and drink to the car made in the middle of Finland.

Defending world champion Kalle Rovanperä stands 41 points clear at the top of the table, but it’s his team-mate Sébastien Ogier who has stolen the show three times already. The Frenchman’s wins in Monte-Carlo, Mexico and last time out at Safari Rally Kenya have been some of the highlights of a thrilling year so far.

Ogier is, of course, running a part-time programme this year and having an eight-time world champion megastar on the bench brings enormous confidence and self-belief to the team (as well as a huge number of points).

Another aspect of 2023 which stands Toyota apart from its rivals is having all three front-line drivers winning: Elfyn Evans and Rovanperä went P1 in Croatia and Portugal respectively. And Takamoto Katsuta has finished inside the top-six three times, with a season-high so far of fourth in Kenya.

The odd water splash moment aside in Italy, the GR Yaris Rally1 has been remarkably reliable through the season’s toughest gravel rallies, demonstrating technical director Tom Fowler’s ability to overcome the one issue which hindered progress last year.

Trailer: Rally Estonia 2023
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM