May 13, 2024

Ogier and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing triumph again

By sarah

Toyota City, Japan, May 13, 2024 – (JCN Newswire via SeaPRwire.com) – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier has secured a second successive win with his record-breaking sixth victory at the Rally de Portugal.

Vincent Landais, Sebastien Ogier

Just like in the previous round on the asphalt roads of Croatia, Ogier and co-driver Vincent Landais triumphed after a thrilling and close battle on Portugal’s gravel stages. Just one second from the lead at the end of Friday, Ogier took over at the front on Saturday morning as others hit trouble, and used all his experience to get through the longest day of the rally with an advantage of 11.9 seconds.

He increased his margin with a storming stage win in a foggy first test on Sunday morning, allowing him to apply more caution in the following tests and ultimately take victory by 7.9s.

Ogier now has more WRC victories in Portugal than any other driver, having matched Finnish legend Markku Alén’s tally of five wins back in 2017. TGR-WRT meanwhile has now won the last five editions of the event with four different drivers, bringing Toyota level with Lancia and Citroën on eight victories each across the history of the rally.

Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin finished sixth overall, securing some important points after a difficult start to the rally on Friday. They faced a further challenge on Sunday after damage to the cooling package in the penultimate stage, but made repairs on the road section to ensure they reached the finish. They remain second in the championship, 24 points from the leaders.

Kalle Rovanperä led after Friday but went off the road on Saturday’s second stage. He and Jonne Halttunen restarted on Sunday and took third in the Power Stage, helping to bank some extra points for the team.

Takamoto Katsuta was also among those fighting for the lead early on before he too stopped on Saturday morning after picking up damage. He and Aaron Johnston rejoined the action on Sunday and were fifth in the Super Sunday and Power Stage classifications.

The manufacturers’ standings remain close after five rounds, with TGR-WRT now four points from the lead.

TGR is celebrating a double victory in Portugal after the first WRC2 win for the new GR Yaris Rally2 car on its gravel debut at this level. Jan Solans and co-driver Rodrigo Sanjuan (Teo Martín Motorsport) climbed the order in the highly-competitive category on Saturday and clinched first place by just 3.2s at the finish.

Quotes:

Akio Toyoda (TGR-WRT Chairman)
“Seb, Vincent, congratulations on your two consecutive wins in Portugal!No matter how tough the gravel surface was, Seb was always calm. No matter how close and electrifying the competition was, Seb was always smiling to the fans. When something happened, he calmly informed the engineers about the situation and got back to the stages. Then he comes back to the finish line faster than anyone else. I am grateful to have such a “true professional” driver in our team. Seb, thank you again.

This weekend, there was both a disappointing thing and a good thing. The disappointing thing was that the other three cars were not able to drive through without problems. Last year as well, we won the event, but the other two cars experienced troubles. So this year, our goal was for all four cars to have a trouble-free rally, but it became a frustrating result for us again. On the other hand, the good thing which made me happy was that the team was calmer than before, whatever kind of problem they were facing. Many things happened during the weekend, but I heard everyone tried to stay calm and find a solution. It is nice to see the team grow. The team gets stronger as each member gets stronger, and as the team gets stronger, the GR YARIS Rally1 will become ever better and stronger. We still have a lot of tough events ahead of us this season, but I hope to continue to grow with everybody in the team.P.S. to ScottLet’s be careful not to forget things! But the backup you did was great!P.S. to ElfynI can relate to you as my co-driver often forgets things! Maybe we drivers should try to support co-drivers as well!”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“Winning a rally is always a special feeling and we can be very happy to have taken another victory here in Portugal with Seb, continuing our winning run on this great event. It’s fantastic to see Seb’s great approach to these events and how he handles the situation under pressure: it shows why he is an eight-time world champion, and now a record six-time winner on this event. Of course, it’s slightly mixed feelings overall because we could not score as many points as we would have liked for championship. But that situation is what it is and we just need to fight back there in the next events.”

Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“A big thank you to the team for fixing the car after the disappointment of yesterday, and sorry to them for losing such important points. It was nice to be back out today but it was not easy, cleaning the road was even tougher than we expected. On the Power Stage we really tried our best, I thought it was a good drive and a clean run, but the road was cleaning so much that the guys behind came a bit faster. Still we got a few points so we did what we could to help the team. It was not the weekend we wanted but we will come back stronger.”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“This morning things were going a bit better than yesterday, but in the third stage we had a rock impact on the underside of the car that damaged the radiator. After that we had to get the car through in EV mode, and we managed to make a repair to get to the finish but unfortunately we didn’t get any extra points from the day. We definitely found a better feeling in the car but there are still a couple of areas to work on. At least we have some answers from the weekend. We’ll try to turn things around and have a stronger rally in Sardinia.”

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“To take another win feels great. It’s nice to achieve some more cool numbers and I have to enjoy and cherish these moments. I had nothing against being tied on five wins for a few years with Markku Alén because for me he’s a legend and I have huge respect for him, but I’ve been asked many times when I was going to take the record and now finally it happened. It was another intense fight for everyone to follow and for us in the car there was no moment to relax. I think the way we managed everything was close to perfect: we could always stay in contention for the win without taking maximum risk when it didn’t feel 100 per cent.”

Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“Of course it’s quite disappointing still that we retired yesterday because we could have had a much better result. But I had a very good feeling with the car here, it felt really good until that moment yesterday. Today was not so easy because we were without hybrid for some stages and the road position wasn’t good for us, but it was nice to at least get some points. I tried to keep pushing every stage as much as I can and learned a lot. There are some positives to take and now I focus on Sardinia, try to prepare well and keep pushing.”

PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY DE PORTUGAL
1 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 3h41m32.3s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +7.9s
3 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +1m09.8s
4 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +1m47.8s
5 Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m48.9s
6 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +6m36.0s
7 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroën C3 Rally2) +11m48.4s
8 Jan Solans/Rodrigo Sanjuan (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) +11m52.9s
9 Josh McErlean/James Fulton (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +11m56.1s
10 Lauri Joona/Janni Hussi (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +13m40.3s
29 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1h10m33.8s
31 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1h20m54.4s

(Results as of 16:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for drivers after round 5:
1 Thierry Neuville 110 points
2 Elfyn Evans 86
3 Ott Tänak 79
4 Adrien Fourmaux 71
5 Sébastien Ogier 70
6 Takamoto Katsuta 49
7 Kalle Rovanperä 36
8 Esapekka Lappi 23
9 Andreas Mikkelsen 14
10 Oliver Solberg 12

2024 FIA World Rally Championship for manufacturers after round 5:
1 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 219 points
2 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team 215
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 96

What’s next?
Rally Italia Sardegna (May 31-Jun 2) features fast but narrow gravel stages, where exposed rocks as well as trees at the side of the road can catch out the unwary. High temperatures combined with the abrasive surface places high stresses on the cars and tyres.

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