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WRC Rally Italy

Toyota to investigate WRC water splash weakness

Toyota will investigate why its World Rally Championship cars suffered in Sardinia’s water splashes - but team boss Jari-Matti Latvala doesn’t believe there is much the team can do.

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Three of the team’s four drivers encountered issues with the GR Yaris while traversing water crossings during last weekend’s rain-impacted round on the Italian island.

Unseasonal rain showers created incredibly tricky conditions which also made the water splashes deeper and provided an extra challenge to crews.

Toyota’s GR Yaris appeared to particularly struggle in the water as Takamoto Katsuta was forced to retire from Saturday’s action when a heavy impact from a splash on stage eight damaged the front end of his car.

Team-mate Elfyn Evans also damaged his car in a water splash on stage 10, while Sebastien Ogier suffered a similar fate while leading the rally on stage 12.

The issue wasn’t limited to Toyota: M-Sport’s Ott Tanak stalled after a water splash before retiring due to an electrical fault. But Hyundai managed to avoid issues in the water altogether.

Latvala admitted that water splashes had proved to be the GR Yaris’ weakness but also highlighted that Kalle Rovanpera managed to avoid trouble in them on his way to finishing third.

“I think the performance of the car was good but of course we had this problem with the water splashes. But I can’t say that everything was because of the car,” Latvala told Autosport.

“We also need to maybe look at having water splashes on tests to see how the drivers approach them so we can have a bit of practice and improve a bit for the future. But Kalle didn’t have issues with them this weekend.

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

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

When asked if there was anything the team could alter on the car to help run through water splashes, Latvala replied: “Homologation-wise, with the bumper and everything, I don’t think there is much we can do. But we can try to simulate it and understand at what kind of speed it happens and the angle that affects it.”

Evans believes the issues were exacerbated by the weather conditions, pointing out that teams are unable to use adaptations on the cars, like the snorkel devices which were used in the past in WRC.

“Clearly there are things that can be done to help. I think if this had been a dry rally, you wouldn't have seen half of the issues. But I think in some cases it wouldn’t have taken a lot to divert around them,” Evans told Autosport.

“If it is normal conditions, then it is fine but at the end of the day, it is rallying. It is part of the game and we don’t have a lot of freedom as to what we can do.

“It is not so easy to have specific set-ups and adaptations for when it gets extreme, like in the past.”

Ogier is however confident the Toyota team will get on top of this weakness with its GR Yaris.

“We definitely found out some issues and some areas where we can still work on the reliability of the car,” Ogier told Autosport.

“I’m sure the team will do its best to make some improvement on that side, so let’s see what the conditions are in Kenya. Let’s hope the sun is back.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“Our car is much weaker than the others. If you see the data and every camera angle, every other car goes much faster than us [into the water splash] and has no damage.

“We tried a different approach and trying to be safe didn’t work.”

Water splashes could provide a hazard when the championship heads to Safari Rally Kenya later this month.

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