GAZOO Racing World Rally Team celebrated its first win of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship season recently after Ott Tänak clinched a dominant victory in round two at Rally Sweden in the No. 8 Toyota Yaris WRC. It is the second win in three years for the Toyota Yaris WRC at the event, which was the scene of its maiden triumph in 2017. Tänak also won the rally-ending Power Stage to secure maximum points.
The drivers faced difficult conditions throughout the race, as warm temperatures caused the ice and snow to melt. Tänak ended the second day by taking the No. 8 Toyota Yaris WRC within two seconds of the rally lead, and capitalized on his better road position on the third day to open up an advantage of nearly a minute over the competition.
On the last day, he drove the No. 8 Toyota Yaris WRC carefully through the opening two stages and was the fastest on the Power Stage by 3.5 seconds to claim the five available bonus points. Co-driven by Martin Järveoja, Tänak now leads the drivers’ championship standings for the first time in his career. The victory also places GAZOO Racing at the top of the manufacturers’ leaderboard, sealing a spectacular start to the season for the team.
Akio Toyoda, Team Chairman, commented: “We are delighted to achieve our first victory of the season at the second round of the WRC, Rally Sweden. I would like to congratulate and thank Ott, Martin and the team for bringing this result. I’d also like to extend my appreciation to all the fans and our partners for their support; thank you very much! It was beyond my imagination when the team won here two years ago during the second rally of our comeback. I still remember clearly the surprise and joy we felt at that time. This year's victory is different; we fought for the victory from the beginning. Comparing this year's rally to the joyful one two years ago and a very tough one last year, I can see how the team has grown. And this gives big power to GAZOO Racing to move forward. The season has just started. In the rest of the season, over 12 rounds, we will have tight battles with our strong rivals. This will make the WRC even more exciting and help us to make ever-better cars. Thank you in advance for your continuous support.”
Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, said: “It is brilliant to get a win here in the second round of the season and to be leading both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ leaderboards. Ott has dominated the whole weekend, showing everyone how to drive in difficult conditions. He is really strong at the moment. When I look at him right now, I see myself over 20 years ago when I was focusing on winning the title.”
Ott Tänak, Driver of the No. 8 Toyota Yaris WRC, said: “We have had a very good weekend. Friday was a key moment, when we had to get through to minimize the time loss in challenging conditions. But after this, we just drove with a good rhythm and as little risk as possible. The fourth and last day was about saving the tires for the Power Stage and to give it a big push. We had a very good run and everything was working really well, so I was really comfortable in the car. We have a very strong team and it's great for us to have this kind of result at the beginning 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 GAZOO Racing (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.
GAZOO Racing will be seeking to strengthen its lead in WRC in the third round of the season, Rally Mexico. The event takes place from March 7-10 and is set to provide a major contrast from Sweden, with rough gravel roads and temperatures in the region of 30°C. High altitude is also a major factor, with a route that peaks at 2,737 meters above sea level, starving engines of air and cutting power by as much as 20 percent.