The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team arrives at the midway point of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season at Rally Estonia the first of two back-to-back events on fast gravel roads in the north of Europe.
Estonia was the scene of Kalle Rovanperä’s maiden WRC victory one year ago. Since then, the young Finn has taken five further victories, including four in the last five events to build a lead of 65 points in the drivers’ championship.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing heads the manufacturers’ standings by 62 points after a historic 1-2-3-4 finish on last month’s Safari Rally Kenya led by Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and TGR WRT Next Generation driver Takamoto Katsuta. Esapekka Lappi will return to the TGR WRT line-up in Estonia alongside Rovanperä and Evans for his fourth start of the season.
Rally Estonia offers a very different challenge to the three previous rounds on gravel, with smooth and fast roads featuring many jumps and crests, although the soft and sandy surface can become rutted for the second pass of each stage.
The rally is based in Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city, and begins on Thursday evening with a short super special next to the service park. Both Friday and Saturday feature a loop of four stages to be run twice either side of mid-day service. Another pass of the super special to round out Saturday’s action and an extended version around the Raadi airfield, run in the opposite direction to last year’s Power Stage, opens two loops of three stages on Sunday. The rally-ending Power Stage once more takes place over the Kambja test, as it did in 2020.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“The result in Kenya was incredible for us but we are now facing a very different challenge for the next two events in Estonia and Finland. Up until now we have been concentrating on reliability, and although we of course want to maintain this, for these smooth and fast rallies we also need to focus on extracting the maximum performance from the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID. It will be a challenge for the drivers as well, because coming from a rough event like the Safari Rally it’s easy to drive too comfortably, and you need to attack from the start of the first stage or you can lose a lot of time. To do this they have to have confidence in the car and their feedback from our pre-event testing has been positive, so we’re looking forward to Estonia and aiming for another strong result.”