Tanak Takes The Lead In The Championship Following Sweden Win

FIA World Rally Championship 2019 / Round 02 / Rally Sweden / February 14-17th, 2019 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC
 FIA World Rally Championship 2019 / Round 02 / Rally Sweden / February 14-17th, 2019 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team’s Ott Tanak has taken the lead of the FIA World Rally Championship drivers standings after taking victory in Rally Sweden on Sunday.

Tanak took victory by 53.7s from Citroen Racing’s Esapekka Lappi and speaking following the action he said:

“We have had a very good weekend. Friday was a key moment where we had to get through to minimise the time loss in the conditions, but after this we just drove with a good rhythm and as little risk as possible. Today it was about saving the tyres for the Power Stage and to give it a big push. We had a very good run and everything was working really well, so I was really comfortable in the car. We have a very strong team and it’s great for us to have this kind of result at the beginning of the season.

Kris Meeke who liked the conditions on Sunday morning finished the rally in sixth place and speaking following the action the Northern Irishman said:

“The conditions this morning were very nice with full ice: just what we really like to drive on. My objective today was to try and finish in front of Sebastien Loeb and we managed to increase the gap, so I’m happy with that. On the Power Stage I had a big impact on the front-left and I struggled after that. The mild temperatures this weekend have been so different to my pre-event test and I’ve lacked some speed as a result. But it’s good to get to the end and score some points for the team.”

Jari Matti Latvala was classified in 21st place after rejoicing the event on Sunday morning having hit a snow bank on Saturday.

Speaking following the day’s action he said:

The first stage this morning was the best stage of the rally: nice, clean ice conditions with big snowbanks, and a fast, flowing road over the crests. It was really enjoyable to drive and nice to be back in a good rhythm. I hoped to get some points on the Power Stage and finish the rally on a high note, but the conditions there for me were very difficult, especially the last part where there was lots of snow and slush. Now we look forward to Mexico.”

Akio Toyoda, Team Chairman of Toyota Gazoo Racing commented on the event and win saying:

We achieved our first victory of the season at the second round of the WRC: Rally Sweden. I would like to congratulate and appreciate Ott, Martin and the team for bringing this result. I also would like to appreciate all the fans and our partners for their support. Thank you very much. It was beyond my imagination when the team won here two years ago at the just second rally of our comeback. I still remember clearly the surprise and joy at that time. This year’s victory is different; we could fight for the victory from the beginning. Reviewing this year’s rally comparing to the joyful one two years ago and a very tough one last year, I can see how the team has grown. I thank Tommi for continuing to lead the team. I saw Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm with unfamiliar drivers’ suits on the podium. Of course, I felt sorry that Jari-Matti, Miikka, Kris and Seb missed the podium. But at the same time, I felt a bit glad that they were there. It is not only because I see their smiles, but also because I felt that we were facing strong rivals. I believe Tommi and all the team members strongly feel as I do that all the drivers and co-drivers are on the podium. And this gives big power to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to move forward. The season has just started. In the rest of the season, over 12 rounds, we will have tight battles with our strong rivals. This will make WRC more exciting and will help us make ever-better cars. Thank you in advance for your continuous support.”

Toyota Team Principal Tommi Makinen said:

It is brilliant to get a win here in the second round of the season and to be leading both championships. Ott has dominated the whole weekend, showing everyone how to drive in the difficult conditions. He is really strong at the moment. When I look at him right now, I see myself over 20 years ago when I was focusing on winning the title. Of course, it has been a more difficult weekend for Kris and for Jari-Matti, but they too have shown the speed of our car, and it is reliable too.”

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