©Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
On Sunday, November 13th, 2022 WRC Round 13 (tarmac) 5SS Rally Japan ran from SS15 to SS19. Amongst the Toyotas, Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin, who were 2nd by a considerable margin the day before, were forced to change tires in the middle of the stage and fall back. With this, Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston moved up one place to finish 3rd overall, highest among the Toyotas, and finish on the podium in their first WRC home race. Sebastien Ogier/Vincent Lande finished the rally in 4th place and Evans in 5th. Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Harttunen were unable to move up the order after hitting a wall and taking damage, finishing in 12th place.
(Team statement below)
Rally Japan Round 13 WRC Day 4
Takamoto Katsuta from Next Generation TGR WRT
GR Yaris Rally1 HYBRID finishes 3rd overall
On Sunday, November 13th, Day 4 of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Round 13 “Rally Japan”, the final day of the competition, was held, starting from the Toyota Stadium Service Park in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Lande of the Rally team (Rally 1 HYBRID car No. 1 GR YARIS) came 4th overall, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (car No. 33) finished 5th, and Kalle Rovanpera/Yonne ・ Harttunen Team (No. 69 ) finished 11th overall. In addition, Takamoto Katsuta, who participated in the TOYOTA GAZOO Next Generation Racing World Rally Team, finished on the podium in 3rd overall, the highest Rally1 GR YARIS HYBRID finish.
On Day 4, the final day of Rally Japan, three stages called “Asahi Kougen,” “Ena City,” and “Nenoue Plateau” were held in Gifu Prefecture and Aichi Prefecture, the northern area of the service park. After that, 5 stages of 69.82 km in total were performed, re-running Ena City and Asahi Kougen. The weather forecast called for rain on Sunday, but there was no rain until the third SS17, and conditions were mostly dry. But SS18 and SS19 were hit by heavy rain at times, making this the first time the race has been held in wet conditions.
At the end of Day 3, Evans was in 2nd place overall, 4 seconds behind leader Thierry Neuville. In the opening SS15, Evans recorded his fourth fastest time of the event, closing the gap on Neuville to 0.6 seconds. However, on the following SS16, Evans had a slight surge in the line on the right corner on the hill and suffered tire damage. As a result, he was forced to stop the car and change the wheels, resulting in a significant loss of time. He dropped to 4th overall, 1 minute 47.3 seconds behind the leader.
As a result of Evans dropping his position, Katsuta moved up from 4th overall to 3rd overall. He completed the final two stages in heavy rain, and along with co-driver Aaron Johnston, took his second podium finish of the season since Round 6, Safari Rally Kenya. Ogier, who suffered tire damage on Friday and dropped to 10th overall after being delayed by 2 minutes 44 seconds due to tire replacement work, regained his position by running the fastest stages on Saturday and Sunday. He showed his speed by recording five best times over the four days, and finished 4th overall, 2 minutes 23.6 seconds behind the winner Neuville. If it wasn’t for the wheel change job, I might have won the race, but I managed to finish the last rally of the season deepening my relationship of trust with my co-driver Rande, who I had joined for the first time.
At 22 years and 1 day, Rovanpera was the youngest driver in WRC history to win the title, and was third overall at the end of Friday. However, on the first stage on Saturday, the cornering line swelled and the car hit the wall, damaging the tires and causing a significant loss of time during the renewal. After leaving the first-class battle, he changed his mind and drove the following stages as a test in order to proceed with setting up the car under the special conditions in Japan. We collected very important data for the future and finished the last rally of the season in 11th place overall. The GR YARIS1 HYBRID Rally recorded the best times in 11 of the 16 stages it actually ran. Unfortunately, we missed the championship due to some accidents, but we managed to show a high performance in front of the Japanese fans.
Jari-Matti Latvala (team representative)
Ultimately, Rally Japan was not the weekend we wanted. Seb was probably the fastest during the rally and Elfyn was leading for most of the rally so we had the speed. Unfortunately, the accidents that happened to each driver worked against us. The stages in Japan were very hard and the roads were very narrow, so it was certainly an environment where such accidents could easily happen. Nice to end the season with our goal of winning the Triple Crown. A win at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s home event would have been even better, but Takamoto to be on the podium at home is just as great. Each rally is a different challenge and you can’t win them all.
Sebastien Ogier (GR YARIS 1 HYBRID car)
We knew it was going to rain today and it was a difficult situation to finish the rally. This morning’s stages had dry and wet conditions, which made it difficult to make a tire choice, so we made a compromise, but we were the fastest all day today, so I think we made the choice correct Once again we were able to show our performance and speed, and the first time we worked with Vincent was perfect. Of course, it would have been even better if we could match that, but we had another run of bad luck this weekend. Everyone is happy to see Takamoto on the podium at home and it’s great to have so much support in Japan.
Elfyn Evans (GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID #33)
Of course, what happened today is very unfortunate. Personally, I had a difficult season, so I was betting everything on this opportunity. We had a good start today, the rhythm was good and it was going very well. However, on the second stage, the line swelled slightly and damaged the tyres. Small mistakes cost a lot, but that’s the nature of the game. The stages in Japan are really busy driving, so it’s easy to make mistakes. That put us out of contention for the win, and the rain made the remaining tires unmatched. But I’m very happy that Takamoto was able to get on the podium in his home event. He’s been working hard all year, so it’s fair to say he’s had the results he deserves.
Calle Rovanpera (GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID #69)
As expected, it was a tough and tough rally. It didn’t go as planned this time, but sometimes things like this happen. Nevertheless, I managed to finish the rally to the end and learn things that will lead to my future. We ran again today for testing purposes, and we wanted to keep the tire balance consistent during the dry conditions, so it was a good opportunity to try some settings. As a result, I was able to take a positive step forward, and I was able to discover positive aspects of my driving, so at least I think I can see the future direction. All in all, it’s been a very good season, so I’m very happy and I want to thank the team and everyone who supported me.
The result of the Japanese rally
1 Thierry Neuville/Martin Wiedega (Hyundai i20 N Rali1 HYBRID) 2h43m52.3s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Rally N 1 HYBRID) +1m11.1s
3 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rali1 HYBRID) +2 m11.3s
4 Sebastien Ogier/Vincent Lande (Toyota GR YARIS Rali1 HYBRID) +2 m23.6s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rali1 HYBRID) +4 m05.1s
6 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Anderson (Rally Ford Puma1 HYBRID) +4m07.4s
7 Gregoire Münster/Louis Lucca (Hyundai i20 Rally N2) +7m50.8s
8 Dof Suninen/Mikko Marukla (Hyundai i20 Rally N2) +8m12.4s
9 Emil Lindholm/Latha Hamalainen (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +8m25.6s
10 Heikki Kovalainen/Sai Kitagawa (Skoda Fabia R5) +8m59.8s
11 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Harttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rali1 HYBRID) +10m40.8s