TOYOTA GAZOO Racing fired up for summer of speed

2024 GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID
2024 GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will return to Rally Poland on June 27-30 with high ambitions entering the first of three consecutive rounds on fast gravel roads across the European summer.

The FIA World Rally Championship’s first visit to Poland since 2017 marks the mid-point of the 2024 season and is followed by a maiden trip to Latvia in July before the classic Rally Finland – the home event for TGR-WRT – at the beginning of August. While all three events consist of fast and flowing gravel stages, each will also provide its own specific challenges.

Rally Poland is one of the oldest rallies in the world, having been first run in 1921. It was part of the first ever WRC calendar in 1973, and featured again in 2009 and from 2014-2017. As it was during its previous WRC stint, the event is based in Mikołajki in the Masurian lake district in the north-east of the country. While speeds are high, the surface is usually quite soft and sandy, in contrast to the firmer roads found in Finland.

Sébastien Ogier is a two-time former winner of the rally and forms part of the TGR-WRT line-up for a fourth successive event, after victories in Croatia and Portugal and a close second place in Sardinia. Elfyn Evans, joint second in the drivers’ standings, 18 points from the lead, has four previous starts in Poland while Takamoto Katsuta will be making his first appearance on the event.

Following back-to-back victories in Portugal and Sardinia, four GR Yaris Rally2 cars are entered in WRC2, with Sami Pajari (Printsport), Roope Korhonen (Rautio Motorsport) and Georg Linnamäe (RedGrey) to be joined by Gregor Jeets (RedGrey).

The action begins on Thursday evening with a super special stage next to the service park in Mikołajki, which will also be run on Friday and Saturday, which otherwise feature two loops of three stages to the east. Sunday’s action takes place much closer to the service park in the form of two repeated stages.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)

“It will be interesting to go back to Poland for the first time since 2017, when I drove the rally for the team during its first season in the WRC. It is a fast rally with speeds close to what we see in Finland, but the character and the surface are a bit different, as the stages have more of a soft and sandy base. This means that on the second pass the road can become quite rutted, and you need to be comfortable to push hard in those ruts. We’re looking forward to this series of faster events. I believe they suit our drivers well, and our car has been very good on fast rallies in the past: events like Poland are where the aerodynamics are having a big effect. But I would say that driver feeling is even more important than the car setup: you need to quickly get used to the speed, be able to attack and be confident, and we will try to give our drivers that confidence.”

Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin
Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)

“After a difficult couple of rallies for us, we’re definitely hoping to find better form on these faster rallies coming up. Even though they’re quite similar in character, they will each have their own challenges. The overriding memory of Rally Poland from the past is that it’s a pretty fast rally: it will be definitely be a change of pace from the last event in Sardinia. It’s also a rally where the roads tended to deteriorate quite a lot, so the second pass can pose a challenge. There will be sections that we’ve driven in the past, but the pacenotes we have are quite old, so in that way it’s more like a new rally and probably quite a busy recce making fresh notes.”

Sébastien Ogier / Vincent Landais
Sébastien Ogier / Vincent Landais

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)

“I’m looking forward to returning to Rally Poland. It was a rally I generally enjoyed in the past and one that has given me some good memories. It’s an extremely fast rally, even though the roads are not necessarily extremely wide, but there are also these soft and sandy places where the second pass conditions can create some surprises. Now going back there after seven years gives the feeling of a new rally, which is something I always like. There will be some big changes to the route, with not so many sections we used to do in the past, so it will be interesting. It’s true that I haven’t driven many fast rallies in recent seasons, but I feel good in the car at the moment and the target remains the same as in recent events: to fight for the win.”

Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron Johnston
Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron Johnston

Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)

“I’m excited to go to Rally Poland for the first time. My pre-event test last week was my first taste of Polish gravel roads, but everything went well. The stages look to be a bit similar to Estonia: very high speed and with a bit of a soft surface in sections. It’s going to be a big challenge but I like this kind of fast rally, so I’m really looking forward to it. I obviously don’t have old pacenotes but I can watch some onboards from previous years to prepare. Drivers who were there when Poland was last in the calendar will maybe have an advantage, but I just need to try to do my best. I hope to get a good feeling and solid result, ready to push in Latvia and Finland where my targets will be higher.”

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