Toyota set for “very important” Rally Mexico WRC pre-event test

Jari-Matti Latvala has labelled Toyota’s pre-event Rally Mexico test as “very important” as the World Rally Championship winning squad aims to address its rough gravel rally pace.

Toyota set for “very important” Rally Mexico WRC pre-event test

Latvala’s Toyota squad has headed to Spain this week for a multi-day test, beginning today, to prepare for next month’s opening gravel rally of the season in Mexico.

While Toyota largely dominated the 2022 season by sweeping both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles, the GR Yaris showcased weakness on rough gravel rallies such as Sardinia and the Acropolis compared to its Hyundai and M-Sport Ford rivals.

The two rallies in question were the only events last year where Toyota was absent from the podium, such was the strength of the GR Yaris.

Following a stronger start to 2023 made by Hyundai and M-Sport, resolving this pace deficit has become a key target for Toyota's 2023 campaign and this week’s test is a valuable opportunity to understand if the team has made ground in this area.

Mexico’s return to the WRC calendar for the first time since 2020 is likely to provide a thorough test for the GR Yaris, which underwent aero and engine updates over the off-season.

Speaking to Autosport in Sweden, Latvala admitted the team was targeting to begin the next phase of the GR Yaris’ development at the test.

“I think for Mexico and the gravel test which we are going to do it is very important because last year we were suffering on those conditions where it was a hard surface with the hard tyres," said Latvala.

“This combination is something where we were lacking speed so this next test before Mexico is important.”

Toyota will head to Mexico off the back of a disappointing Rally Sweden that saw the brand miss out on podium for only the second time at the snow event since it returned to the WRC in 2017.

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

World champion Kalle Rovanpera, who won in Sweden last year, achieved the Toyota’s best result in fourth while Elfyn Evans was a distant fifth. M-Sport’s Ott Tanak took the win from Hyundai duo Craig Breen and Thierry Neuville.

PLUS: How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland

When asked to explain the team’s drop off in pace compared to last year, Latvala added: “I think last year the cars were very new and for us they were very reliable and that was one of the elements that was helping us.

“The second thing, the conditions were different, it was plus degrees before the race and the roads were getting quite rutted during the recce. That was disturbing Kalle when he was opening the road and for Elfyn as well.”

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