For the third year in a row, the Toyota Yaris WRC has won the fastest event on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, Rally Finland. Ott Tänak repeated his victory from one year ago to increase his championship lead, while Jari-Matti Latvala finished third on his home event. It means the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team – which is based in Finland – maintains its record of getting two cars onto the podium on the event every year since its debut in 2017.
Tänak moved into the lead on Saturday following an intense battle with his team-mates, and took a lead of 16.4 seconds into the final day. He instantly increased that to 20s in the first of the final four stages, when he claimed his 200th career WRC stage win: also his 120th in the Yaris WRC and 50th so far this season.
Guided by co-driver Martin Järveoja, Tänak went on to set another fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage as he clinched his victory, outpacing his nearest rival by 0.7 seconds to take the maximum 30 points away from the rally. His championship lead increases to 22 points.
Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila took their eighth stage win of the event on SS21 on their way to sealing their first podium finish of the season. The double podium haul helps the team to close up to the leader in the manufacturers’ championship.
Kris Meeke had fought with team-mates Tänak and Latvala for the rally lead until he retired Saturday morning. He restarted the event this morning, but had to stop again in the penultimate stage when he hit a rock on the inside of a bend and damaged his car’s front-left corner.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman):
“TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT has won Rally Finland for the third year in a row in front of a huge amount of local supporters in its other home country, Finland. The city of Jyväskylä, the centre of the rally, welcomed us with the words “Welcome to My Home Roads”, just as last year. In addition, they called our car the “Hometown Hero”. I really appreciated the local people and also all the supporters across the globe cheering us on. Thank you very much. In the last event, Rally Italia Sardegna, we felt very disappointed. For six weeks since then, the team has kept working hard with strong commitments, ‘let’s make the best result at our home rally’, ‘let’s repay the kindness of the local people supporting us’. I want to send words of celebration and appreciation to Ott and Martin stood on the top of the podium, Jari-Matti and Miikka on the third step and all the team members: Congratulations! Thank you! I really wanted to deliver this message directly to you while being soaked in champagne on the podium like last year. In this year’s Rally Finland, all three Yaris WRC crews including Kris and Seb had a big fight for the victory from the beginning. At one point on Saturday morning, they were covered by just 0.6 seconds. I saw that each of them was really enjoying to drive the Yaris WRC. I strongly believe that such hard and enjoyable drives from our six drivers and co-drivers will make the Yaris ever better! The WRC season has moved into the second half. The team will keep fighting to secure the Manufacturers’ championship and to make our driver and co-driver become the World Rally Champions. To all the fans, I wish for your continuous support for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT.”
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal):
“We continue to achieve great results here on the team’s home rally: To have our third win in a row here is fantastic. Ott seems to be so strong at the moment, and combined with our car, it’s a package that looks to be very difficult to beat. Like we saw on the Power Stage, he is able to do whatever he needs to do: He didn’t have to push flat out but he could still take the maximum points. It’s very good to have Jari-Matti on the podium as well. It helps us to catch up some ground in the manufacturers’ championship, and Ott has made a pretty good step forward in the drivers’ standings. Hopefully we can continue like this in the next events.”
“It feels really good to get this victory. It was very important to get a good result here to help us in both championships. I would say that this is a perfect result to begin the second part of the season. I think it’s a great boost for the whole team and now we need to keep pushing. I focused on having a clean run through the first three stages today, and then on the Power Stage I pushed. I tried to have a fast and clean run with no mistakes, and we were able to get the maximum points. Now we need to continue in the same way, starting with Germany.”
Rallye Deutschland on August 22-25 is effectively three rallies in one on German asphalt: twisting roads through Mosel vineyards, the notoriously tough Baumholder military area and fast country lanes of Saarland. The differing characteristics of these roads and the often-changeable weather conditions can make car set-up and tyre choice difficult.