Toyota now "very confident" about WRC title challenge

Toyota WRC boss Tommi Makinen says the team can feel "very, very confident" about fighting for the title this season after its double podium finish in Monte Carlo.

Toyota now "very confident" about WRC title challenge
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Podium: winners Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport Ford, second place Ott Tanak, Martin Järveoja, Toyota Gazoo Racing, third place, Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Ott Tanak, Martin Järveoja, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing

Ott Tanak pressured eventual winner Sebastien Ogier before finishing second on his debut for Toyota, with teammate Jari-Matti Latvala third. 

Esapekka Lappi was set to make it a 2-3-4 finish before a mistake on the final stage dropped him to seventh.

Latvala won Rally Sweden on Toyota's second round back last season, but Makinen called its Monte showing "the strongest result for our team". 

“We were not at home on this rally, we were at home last year for Rally Finland and we were strong there, but here we are away," he told Motorsport.com. “It’s tougher for Ogier to win in Sweden, this is our territory.

“Our drivers are thinking this: we know Sweden, we compare last year’s car and we know where we are – we are stronger. The others are too, but we know where we are. 

“We compare last year’s suspension parts, for example, and we know the work we have done since last year, it’s a lot better now.

“Jari-Matti won Sweden last year, he really performed and I’m sure he will go very fast on that one. He really wants to win in Sweden, I think it’s going to be a very interesting battle with these three drivers [of ours].”

The points Toyota picked up from Tanak and Latvala left it joint-top with Ogier’s M-Sport Ford team at the top of the manufacturers’ table. 

It is the first time the manufacturer has held that position, although Latvala led the drivers’ race after winning in Sweden last year. 

“If we continue from Sweden, I think Mexico should be already far better than last year,” said Makinen.

“Now we have information from those [high-altitude] conditions, the car and we found more on the engine side. We are very, very confident we can be fighting for the titles.

“Jari-Matti and Ott [should be] fighting for the drivers’ and now we have shown we can have all three drivers on the podium and that makes [the] manufacturers' title possible as well. 

“Apart from Esapekka on the last stage in Monte Carlo, there were no mistakes. They are all at a very, very high level.”

Makinen said the result had immediately lifted some of the pressure from the team because it had validated its work on the new car. 

“This makes the whole team feel more comfortable,” he said. "We showed in Monte Carlo that we knew what had to be done, and we did it.”

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