The GAZOO Racing (GR) World Rally Team (WRT) recently celebrated a fantastic one-two finish for the GR YARIS Rally1 vehicle on its gravel debut at the Rally de Portugal, the round four of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Kalle Rovanperä scored his third win in a row just ahead of team-mate Elfyn Evans, with Toyota extending its lead for the Manufacturers’ Championship by 59 points.
In the first test of the new generation of hybrid electric-powered vehicles on gravel roads, the GR YARIS Rally1 was the vehicle to beat, winning 15 of the 19 stages across the rally. The first day proved thrilling with an intense battle between Evans in the No. 33 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 and Rovanperä who doubled up as championship leader for the first time in his career in the No. 69 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1. The pair were in a league of their own through the second day, and the lead moved into Rovanperä’s hands in difficult mixed weather conditions during the afternoon.
But Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen went on to win the penultimate stage as well as the rally-ending Power Stage, ensuring another maximum points haul to increase their championship lead to 46 points after wins in three of the first four events. Evans and co-driver Scott Martin finished 15.2s away from the victory as they returned to the podium for the first time this season.
Akio Toyoda, President, and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation commented: “Kalle, Jonne, congratulations! It is amazing to achieve three consecutive victories, especially as it was done on snow, asphalt, and gravel rallies. I truly thank them for proving that the GR YARIS Rally1 is the vehicle that can win on any type of road. Also, it was great to have a one-two finish and I thank Elfyn, Scott and everybody on the team for the outstanding performance that saw Toyota completing the first third of the season leading the championship standings. I appreciate our fans’ continuous support that inspires us to strive to make our vehicle the strongest at the end of the season.”
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GR, to consolidate all of its motorsport’s activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ GR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of various motorsports events, GR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
The fifth round of the 2022 FIA WRC is Rally Italia Sardegna, which will take place from June 2-5, with stages involving fast but narrow tracks.