Ott Tänak and the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team have secured a stunning victory on Rally Argentina: the Estonian’s first win with the team in only his fifth event in the Toyota Yaris WRC.
Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja were dominant after taking the lead on the first full day, winning 10 stages across Friday and Saturday before controlling their lead over notoriously tough stages on Sunday, finishing up 33.7 seconds clear of the competition.
Esapekka Lappi completed his first Rally Argentina in eighth place. He was hampered by numerous punctures during the weekend, including another on Sunday’s first stage that cost him two places in the numerous order. He also showed encouraging pace, however, on what is regarded as one of the toughest rounds of the championship. Jari-Matti Latvala had to retire from the rally on Friday due to the damage caused by an impact with a rock, but he had already confirmed the impressive performance of the Yaris WRC.
Tänak and the Toyota team remain third in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings respectively, but have both closed further on those in front.
Akio Toyoda (Team Chairman)
“I’m very pleased to receive the news came from the other side of the world that Ott Tänak won Rally Argentina. Congratulations and thank you Ott for your first victory with Yaris! I also really appreciate all the fans supporting us. In last year’s Rally Argentina, our Yaris WRCs were thoroughly damaged by the rough roads. However, our team members learned a lot and have improved the car, and finally they have got the Yaris back on the top of the podium. Latvala, who unfortunately retired early in the weekend, had run as fast as Tanak before the trouble and left Argentina with positive feeling and strong comment. He said: “the Yaris is very fast.” Lappi, who finished 8th overall, also insisted that he learned a lot from his first experience in Rally Argentina. I’m glad to see all the team members are growing and cars are being developed through fighting on the roads of the WRC. The second season is now in its middle phase. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team keeps pushing the limit to deliver good news to the fans. Thank you for your continuing support.”
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“This is an absolutely fantastic result for our team. Ott was so strong during the weekend. Of course, he took it a little steadier over the last day, but these last stages were so difficult and there was no point risking this fantastic win. It’s his first win for us and it has come on one of the hardest rallies. Everybody has seen that our car can perform in these conditions and that it is strong enough. For us to be so strong together this weekend is something that we couldn’t have dreamt of before. We have had some ups and downs so this win is really important. We knew that we have good performance in the car, and now finally we have a brilliant result for all the hard work that the team has put in. Now we hope to continue in the same direction.”
“It is very special to take my first win with the team. We have been improving the car very quickly, and it is now pretty much how I like it. It has been giving me great confidence. It is also great to see how much the team has been supporting me. To dominate a rally like this for the first time is very nice, but it has definitely not been easy. Earlier in the weekend I was pushing a lot. As the gap was growing it was possible for us to control it more and more, and today we were more on the safe side. The direction is good and we are closing up in the championship. It is still fairly early in the season, so now we just need to keep going in the same way in the coming rallies.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“I can take home some positives from my first Rally Argentina. My speed was actually better than I was expecting on my first time here. It helped that we seemed to have the best car here: Ott controlled the whole rally, congratulations to him. We had many issues with punctures during the weekend and we need to investigate what was causing them. Although we had many things that caused us to lose time, we managed to do all the stages, and get the experience. This first part of the season was never going to be easy, with events I did not have enough experience on, but there have been positive moments and I will take this on to Portugal.”
FINAL RESULT, RALLY ARGENTINA
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h43m28.9s
2 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +37.7s
3 Dani Sordo/Carlos Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1m15.7s
4 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m58.6s
5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2m02.6s
6 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3m06.3s
7 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +3m25.7s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4m32.6s
9 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m38.6s
10 Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +12m15.8s
Retired after day 2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
It is back to Europe for round six of the season, Rally Portugal on May 17-20. Based in Matosinhos near Porto in the north of the country, the event features classic stages on sandy and rocky roads. Grip can be difficult to find on the soft roads during the first pass through the stages, while rocks can be exposed and deep ruts can form during the second pass.