Toyota City, Japan, Nov, 20 2017 - (JCN Newswire) - At the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Australia, Toyota Yaris WRC driver Esapekka Lappi has finished sixth. His team mate Jari-Matti Latvala was second right until the final Power Stage, when he went off. Nonetheless, he concludes the 2017 drivers' championship in fourth position, after only the first full year for Toyota since returning to series for the first time in 18 years, while TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is third in the manufacturers' championship on its debut.
Car 11 (Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm)
The final short day on Rally Australia concluded with just five stages, but heavy rain made it extremely tricky and slippery, after a rally that had been characterised by inconsistent conditions from the start. The weather even led to the penultimate stage being cancelled for safety reasons. The final test was the Power Stage, in which Lappi placed third after a strong run, ending a great season for the Yaris WRC.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
"We had some great moments this year when we won in Sweden and Finland. But what actually made me even happier were the rallies that didn't go so well for us, but allowed us to learn a lot and realise that we still had a long way to go. In Australia Jari-Matti stopped on the last stage and that is one example that tells us we still have things to improve--but we are always grateful for these opportunities to keep on learning. Our lessons from WRC are not only reflected in the efforts of our team, but are also fed back to those in charge of developing our road cars. To fans and media, thank you very much for this year and I look forward to your continued support. From my own experience of being out on the stages earlier this season, I know that it's the fans who keep motorsport going. Next year, we will be joined by a new crew and we will aim for an even higher position."
Tommi Makinen (Team Principal)
"I don't think anyone could have predicted how this rally would finish, but I don't think anyone could have predicted all the results we took this season either, so a huge thank you to everyone who made it possible: drivers, co-drivers and team, in Japan, Germany and Finland. Australia was one of the most complex rallies we faced all year, with some big challenges: we had some things to fix on Friday, then Esapekka was first on the road on Saturday and Sunday, and finally we had the accident for Jari-Matti right at the end of the rally. This disappointment shouldn't take away anything from what we have achieved this year: it's been a great performance overall. That doesn't mean we can relax: already we are working hard towards next year."
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
"Obviously this is not the way that I wanted to end the year but this is rallying and you have to take the most and learn from every experience, even if it doesn't feel like a positive one at the time. We were pushing hard on the Power Stage to try and maximise our chances of doing something special and when you are pushing hard these things can happen. Up until then it had been a good rally for us and we managed to get very close to the front, especially after the first stage this morning. I'd like to apologise for my mistake today after a huge effort from everyone here, and most of all say a big 'thank you' to the whole team for delivering a year that went beyond all my expectations."
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 11)
"It was a tough day: a lot of standing water as the rain suddenly came on the stage before the Power Stage. There were a few surprises for us, as we were first on the road again. I wasn't controlling the car--it was just like a boat--but we're still here! Yesterday we were first on the road and we were struggling with tyre choice: today the roads were cleaning less so it was a bit easier. The tyre choice was actually good today as we kept some new tyres back, so we had a good feeling. The main thing is that we gained plenty of experience on this event, to try to understand the best way to drive here. Looking at the season as a whole I'm happy with our speed, but I know I've got plenty to learn to iron out the ups and downs we had. I'm already looking forward to next year."
FINAL RESULT, RALLY AUSTRALIA:
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2h35m44.8s
2. Ott Tanak / Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC)+22.5s
3. Hayden Paddon / Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +59.1s
4. Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC)+2m27.7s
5. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m05.6s
6. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3m49.5s
7. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +22m58.4s
8. Richie Dalton / John Allen (Skoda Fabia R5)+24m39.6s
9. Nathan Quinn / Ben Searcy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)+25m03.4s
10. Dean Herridge / Sam Hill (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) +29m52.3s
RetiredJari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR DRIVERS AFTER ROUND 13:
1. Sebastien Ogier 232
2. Thierry Neuville 208
3. Ott Tanak 191
4. Jari-Matti Latvala 136
5. Elfyn Evans 128
6. Dani Sordo 95
7. Kris Meeke 77
8. Hayden Paddon 74
9. Juho Hanninen 71
10. Craig Breen 64
12. Esapekka Lappi 62
2017 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS AFTER ROUND 13:
1. M-Sport World Rally Team 428
2. Hyundai Motorsport 345
3. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT 251
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 218
Team Chairman Akio Toyoda, message in full
I would like to thank all TOYOTA GAZOO Racing fans for their strong support as we took up the challenge of the FIA World Rally Championship this year. "Go for it!", "Thank you for coming back!": all these things that we heard on the stages were hugely encouraging, as it was our first season in the WRC in 18 years. When I had a chance to personally witness the Tour de Corse, which was round four in France in April, I was deeply moved to see fans cheering "GAZOO!" out loud as our Yaris WRCs zoomed by in front of them. This renewed my feeling that it is the fans who keep motorsport going.
Toyota returned to the WRC so that it could make ever-better cars by driving and learning on various roads around the world.
At the beginning of the season, I promised together with Tommi to make the Yaris WRC the strongest that it could possibly be this season by the end of the final round. He and the rest of the team kept continually learning and putting themselves to the test to do so.
I also think that because of his experience as a four- time world rally champion, Tommi has built the car and the team, and communicated well with all the drivers, so effectively.
For example, he advised Latvala to go flat-out until the end on Sunday in Sweden, when he was already in first position. This can be done only by him.
When Lappi took his maiden victory and Hanninen, who had been a key part of the Yaris WRC's development got his first podium finish, Tommi had an even bigger smile on his face than the drivers themselves.
I remember watching at that moment, thinking that it was precisely because Tommi had fought together with the drivers, side by side and with one team spirit.
I want to thank all the team members who have been working so hard under Tommi, our team principal, from the bottom of my heart.
The moments when we won in Sweden and Finland were great. But what made me even happier were the rallies that didn't go so well for us, but allowed us to learn a lot and realise that we still had a long way to go. On Rally Australia, Latvala--who was fighting for the podium--stopped on the very last stage. This tells us that there are still things to improve.
And I am glad that we can have such valuable learning opportunities on a regular basis.
Our lessons from the WRC are not only reflected in the efforts of our team, but are also fed back to those in charge of developing road cars. The cars we make as we go forward will include many of the things that the Yaris WRC and the stages of the world have taught us. By continuing to drive on these roads, we intend to keep on making ever-better cars.
Next year, we will be joined by a new crew and we will aim for an even-higher position. Learning and making ever-better cars has no end. We will continue to compete by going all-out. Thank you very much for this year and I look forward to your continued support."
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