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It’s been 17 years in the making, but Toyota can now once again add a WRC victory to its list of accolades.
Following a 17-year absence, Toyota has secured a victory in the World Rally Championship (WRC) in just its second outing.
Driving a Yaris at the WRC Rally Sweden event, Jari-Matti Latvala gave Toyota its first victory in world rallying since Frenchman Didier Auriol won the 1999 Rally China in a Corolla.
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With just three stages remaining on the final Sunday, Latvala found himself catapulted to the top of the leaderboard after Thierry Neuville crashed out relinquishing his large advantage.
Joining Latvala on the podium were Estonia’s Ott Tanak and France’s Sebastien Ogier – who won the previous WRC event in Monte Carlo. Both Tanak and Ogier drive for M-Sport.
Latvala’s Yaris was built in Finland by four-time world champion Tommi Makinen and Rally Sweden was only its second WRC event – a reality that definitely bodes well for the team’s future ambitions.
The result marks the manufacturer’s first rally victory since 1999 and gives Latvala an early lead in the overall drivers’ standings. It’s the first time any driver other than Ogier has led the WRC since February 2014.
Perhaps the most ironic part of the victory is the fact Toyota Gazoo Racing has said previously that its rally aspirations were more about development than actually getting results.
“It’s amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we’re winning [after second place in Monte Carlo],” Latvala said.
“I have no words to describe it. I’m so emotional.”
Latvala and Toyota will be hoping they can replicate their success at the next WRC event: Rally Guanajuato México on March 9.