Latvala counts on car reliability in Kenya for Toyota's recovery

The team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Jari-Matti Latvala, says that he is looking forward to Safari Rally Kenya as it will be a great chance for his team to bounce back after the difficult first two rounds of this year's championship.

Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi managed to put Hyundai on the top step of the podium in Monte Carlo and Sweden respectively, but Safari Rally Kenya is the upcoming WRC round at the calendar where Toyota traditionally performs well there. More specifically, Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans did the 2-3 for the Japanese team on the season opener with the last one suffering from hybrid issues and using three different hybrid units during that weekend. On the other hand, Takamoto Katsuta dropped lost four minutes in Stage 3 of Rallye Monte Carlo as he went off the road and his Yaris was stuck in a ditch. At Rally Sweden, Evans claimed his second consecutive podium as he finished second overall and lost many seconds when he was forced to open the road on Firday evening after Neuville's engine problems. Katsuta was fighting with EP for the lead of Rally Sweden, but his hopes for a good result ended when he hit a snowbank and his car was stuck in Stage. In addition to these, Kalle Rovanpera was one of the favorite drivers to win among Ott Tanak and Lappi, but he restarted on Saturday under the SuperRally regulations after his retirement in Stage 4 where he hit a snowbank resulting in damaging the radiator and the rear of his Yaris.

Safari Rally Kenya returns back to the Easter dates for the first time in 26 years and Toyota is the most successful manufacturer on these conditions. In fact, Toyota managed to finish to do the 1-2-3-4 in 2022 since 1993 while its drivers secured a second top four finish in 2023 for a second consecutive year. Kenya rejoined World Rally Championship back in 2021 and Sebastien Ogier has won two times this iconic event (2021 and 2023) while Kalle Rovanpera claimed a remarkable victory in 2022 despite the fact that he was opening the road.

"I’m really looking forward to Kenya", Latvala said.

"Of course, now the timing is different, the date has come forwards and it's going to be run in the rainy season – this is going to be quite a big challenge. 

"But I think the reliability has been one of our strengths, which is, of course, good going to Kenya.

"We need to be really patient over there because the first two events for the season haven't been going the way we hoped. 

"So it's a rally where I think we really want to bounce back".


Photo Credits: Toyota

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