The Toyota Gazoo Racing team were celebrating in Monte Carlo on Sunday evening after Jari Matti-Latvala secured the outfit’s first podium finish on the manufacturer’s return to the World Rally Championship.

Latvala split M-Sports drivers of winner Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak to take second place for the Japanese manufacturer who car is built in Finland.

Speaking following the rally, Latvala commented by saying:

I am so happy with the result, although I am sorry for Ott Tanak, who was second before he had a problem. If you had told me before the start of the rally that this is where we would finish, I would never have believed it. In fact, this equals my best-ever result on this rally. The last stages were very difficult, like the whole rally was in fact, and my main priority was to look after the tyres. On the final stage there was some snow so it was hard to find the grip. It’s been an amazing rally, and it’s been fantastic to feel all the support of the fans in particular.

Juho Hanninen who finished the rally in 16th place commented by saying:

Today I tried to be as careful as possible in order to be sure of us bringing two cars home on our first rally, which is a fantastic result: especially with one car on the podium. On the last stage it was really difficult to see exactly where the snow and ice was. It’s a pity that we made a mistake on Friday as otherwise we had no problems and our pace was good. Considering my lack of experience it was still a good result here for me and as a team we have learned a lot, which is the most important thing. We will try and keep improving now.

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Makinen commented by saying:

I’m very happy. This result goes a long way beyond our expectations, as this is really only a development year. We didn’t have much experience but our rally was nearly perfect: both crews reacted very well to the changing circumstances and they were able to set stage times in the top three, which is very encouraging. Jari-Matti had a problem with a sensor during the rally, which was distracting him, and there was a worry that if he stopped the car in the stage he might not be able to restart. But how he coped with this was very impressive. A big thank you to the team for all the hard work so far. We still have a lot of work ahead but this is a good start.

Toyota Gazoo Racing vice president Koei Saga commented by saying:

I’m so happy that we have finished the first rally of our return with a result that is better than expected, as we aim to make ever-better cars. I’d like to thank all our team members and crews for their hard work, as well as all the fans who have been waiting for us to come back for 17 years. It’s clear that we have good potential, but our competitors are very strong and we still have plenty of work to do to be regarded as their rivals in a real sense. We’ll be doing our best to get there!

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