TOKYO, Oct 28, 2019 - (JCN Newswire) - TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team driver Ott Tanak and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja have made history by securing their first FIA World Rally Championship titles with a stunning second-place finish on Rally de Espana.
Tanak becomes only the third different driver to claim the WRC crown since 2004, while he and Jarveoja are the first Estonians to ever achieve the feat. It is the fifth occasion that a Toyota driver has won the WRC drivers' title, and the first time since Didier Auriol triumphed in 1994.
Having won six of the 12 rallies so far, Tanak arrived at the penultimate round of the season with a 28-point advantage in the championship. In the series' only true mixed-surface event, Tanak was fifth overall following the opening day on gravel before four consecutive stage wins on asphalt on Saturday promoted him up into third place.
On Sunday he opened up a comfortable advantage over the driver behind but still needed to push hard on the rally-ending Power Stage to secure the title. In an incredible run over the 20.72-kilometre stage, he was 3.6 seconds faster than anyone to not only take the full five bonus points, but also grab second place overall in the rally.
Jari-Matti Latvala finished in the fifth position, scoring important points for the manufacturers' championship, which Toyota remains in with a chance of winning at the final round of the season in Australia, 18 points from the leader. After retiring on Saturday morning following a crash, Kris Meeke returned to action on Sunday under restart rules.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta successfully completed his second event at the top level in a separately-entered Toyota Yaris WRC, once again showing good progress even though a technical issue slowed him on Saturday.
Tommi Makinen (Team Principal)
"This is a historic achievement: We have a new world champion. It's a big reward for the whole team for the hard work they have done together with Ott and Martin throughout the whole season to reach this target. There has been a lot of pressure for Ott this weekend. I know what it's like and I think it's difficult for anyone else to understand what it means. What he did on the Power Stage, to do what he needed to get the title, was absolutely amazing. The second place helps us in the manufacturers' championship as well. We will still have a chance in Australia and we will do our maximum there."
Ott Tanak (Driver car 8)
"It's hard to know what to say at this moment. The pressure this weekend has been on another level. This has been the target of my life. I knew I couldn't make any mistakes, but still, I had to do a good result to make it happen. So it was massive pressure and it was difficult to get used to it at the beginning. But in the end I was somehow able to relax and do my normal driving. This morning I had a good feeling in the car and could drive with a good rhythm, but Dani [Sordo] was always a bit faster, so I knew it would be hard in the Power Stage to get the points we needed. I pushed hard and in the end, it paid off. I've had to overcome a lot in my career, so it's nice to finally achieve this. Thank you to the team; they have done a great job."]
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
"I'm happy with my weekend. I think we had a consistent run and we didn't really make any mistakes during the weekend, and the performance was overall at a good level. I was lacking some confidence at the start of this rally so I must be happy with the result and that we could score some good points for the team. Maybe we could have got fourth place today if I had pushed hard, but it would not have benefited us in the manufacturers' championship and this was the most important thing, to keep it open going to the final round in Australia."
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
"I enjoyed the rhythm back in the car today. We know that the Yaris WRC is really strong on asphalt, and I had a good feeling again this morning. We had to back off in the Power Stage because there was no way in which we could have helped Ott wrap up the championship, and it was important not to get in the mix and potentially take points away from him. We'll go to Australia with something to fight for still in the manufacturers' championship and we'll give it our best."
For the latest results please visit www.wrc.com.
The season ends at Rally Australia (November 14-17), held on varied gravel roads with tight and twisty forest tracks combined with fast and flowing sections across open countryside.
About Toyota Motor Corporation
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is the global mobility company that introduced the Prius hybrid-electric car in 1997 and the first mass-produced fuel cell sedan, Mirai, in 2014. Headquartered in Toyota City, Japan, Toyota has been making cars since 1937. Today, Toyota proudly employs 370,000 employees in communities around the world. Together, they build around 10 million vehicles per year in 29 countries, from mainstream cars and premium vehicles to mini-vehicles and commercial trucks, and sell them in more than 170 countries under the brands Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino. For more information, please visit www.toyota-global.com.
Public Affairs Division Global Communications Department Toyota Motor Corporation Tel: +81-3-3817-9926
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