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WRC Rally Mexico

Rovanpera: Toyota “definitely better” on rough gravel after Mexico WRC test

Kalle Rovanpera is confident Toyota has made progress with its pace on rough gravel following a successful test in Spain ahead of the World Rally Championship’s visit to Mexico.

Rough gravel rallies proved to be a weakness for the GR Yaris last year in an otherwise dominant 2022 campaign for the Japanese marque, that resulted in a drivers’ and constructors’ title double.

Abrasive gravel rallies in Sardinia and Greece were the only events Toyota failed to score a podium last season. The lack of pace in these conditions has pushed the team to find solutions to avoid a repeat in 2023.

This week Toyota headed to Spain to conduct what team boss Jari-Matti Latvala described as a “very important” test ahead of the first gravel round of the season in Mexico later this month.

Reflecting on the performance of the GR Yaris, world champion Rovanpera is convinced the car is better than the version he drove on gravel last year.

“I think the guys have been working quite hard on this kind of gravel,” said Rovanpera.

“We were not on the pace on this kind of rough gravel conditions and everybody has been doing a lot of work to improve the car, and it has been nice to see already that the car is definitely better in these kind of conditions.

“We are still working hard to try to dine all the things we can, but we are definitely going in the right direction.”

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Rovanpera heads to Mexico sitting second in the championship standings behind M-Sport’s Ott Tanak after finishing second in Monte Carlo and fourth in Sweden, the latter result arriving following a difficult run at the snow event.

Aware of the challenges of opening the road on the dusty, rough gravel of Mexico, Rovanpera purposely backed off on the Power Stage in Sweden to ensure he wouldn’t start first on the road for the third round of the season.

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The 22-year-old believes the slight road position advantage will prove to be crucial.

“I think in Mexico it is important to even get this one starting place [back] on the road order,” he added.

“It is definitely one the toughest events on the calendar to clean the roads so I’m definitely quite happy to be starting second on the road. It is still going to be a tough job to compare to the guys that start behind but we will try our best.

“The beginning of the season has not been the easiest but it has bene good we have got good points.

“I think in Sweden we could have been better but the target on the test was to make the car better and hopefully we can be on the pace for the full weekend in Mexico and fight for the real good positions.”

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