The GAZOO Racing (GR) World Rally Team (WRT) continued its exceptional performance in this season’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) recently with a podium finish at the Ypres Rally in Belgium. Kalle Rovanperä claimed third place in the No. 69 Toyota Yaris WRC following a final-day battle with his teammates Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier as the event came to a close at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
All three of the team’s drivers were closely matched throughout their debut appearances on the tricky Belgian roads during the first Ypres Rally to be held as part of the FIA WRC. They ended the second day separated by just 4.3 seconds in the fight for third place, with Evans leading in the No. 33 Toyota Yaris WRC as they headed to Spa for the last four stages.
The final stages combined twisty public roads in the Ardennes region with access roads around the famous Spa circuit, as well as sections of the racetrack itself. Rovanperä went on to seal third place by 6.5 seconds over Evans, claiming an impressive result for himself and co-driver Jonne Halttunen in the No. 69 Toyota Yaris WRC. Meanwhile, Ogier was second-fastest on the rally-ending Power Stage in the No. 1 Toyota Yaris WRC, gaining additional points to strengthen his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Toyota continues to lead the Manufacturers’ Championship and is now 41 points clear with just four races remaining.
“Congratulations to Kalle Rovanperä for achieving a podium place during the GR team’s first-ever rally event at this demanding circuit,” commented Kei Fujita, Chief Representative, Middle East and Central Asia Representative Office, Toyota Motor Corporation. “The Toyota Yaris once again proved its capabilities in a challenging environment thanks to the hard work of the whole team, whose skill and determination contributed to more valuable points. Our participation in motorsports offers the ideal proving ground for the development, testing of new technologies as we continue on our journey to create ‘ever-better’ cars. Thanks to everyone who supported our activities, and we look forward to more exciting battles next month in Greece.”
Kalle Rovanperä, Driver of the No. 69 Toyota Yaris WRC, said: “The final race day in Belgium was really nice. It was one of the tightest fights I have been and to compete with your teammates is always interesting. I’m really happy with this result. I think that for us to be able to finish on the podium is really good.”
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 motorsports 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 next stop for this year’s Championship will be the Acropolis Rally in Greece, which returns to the WRC calendar for the first time since 2013 on September 9-12. The event enjoys a legendary reputation thanks to its rough and rocky terrain.