Toyota Gazoo Racing’s new driver pairing of Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans had a fantastic opening rally of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship in Monsco.
The pair who joined the Finnish team from Citroen and M Sport Ford respectively over the winter dominated the proceedings in Monte Carlo but were pipped to the win by Hyundai Motorsports Thierry Nueville.
Speaking following the event, Sebastien Ogier said:
I feel good honestly, it’s a positive result. Of course, I had hoped to deliver even more and bring the team a win straight away. But it’s always such a huge challenge to adapt to a new environment, especially on such a challenging rally, so I think we can be happy. I tried to stay in my comfort zone the whole weekend, not overdo it. We missed it by just a little bit, but 22 points is very good for the championship. There were some good moments during the weekend where we felt good in the car, some where I didn’t have enough confidence to really push the limits, but I really feel this car’s potential. I really enjoyed to drive it and I’m sure with a little bit more time, we’ll make great things together.”
Elfyn Evans was disappointed having led the rally but to come home with a podium in his first event with the team is a great achievement and gives the Welshman the perfect platform to build on heading to Sweden next month.
Speaking following the action he said:
Obviously I feel a little bit disappointed today because I think we had the potential to win the rally. It’s difficult now because when you lead the rally, your expectations are raised and the win becomes the target of course. But it’s generally been a positive weekend. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite the feeling that I needed today. I was pushing hard but the speed wasn’t coming so naturally. I wasn’t nailing every corner and that ultimately cost us the handful of seconds we missed out by. We still have a little bit of learning to do, but overall it’s not a bad start and we can build on it.”
Kalle Rovanpera was happy with how his weekend panned out saying:
It has been a nice weekend. It was really tricky learning a new car in these conditions – and I think the conditions were really tricky this year, as they were changing a lot. It was getting better all the time and when there were conditions I was more familiar with, I could do a bit better. There were so many things I learned during the weekend. It really helps to have a clean rally at the start of the season and also some good points.
Speaking following the rally, team principal Tommi Makinen said”
It has been an excellent weekend for us. Of course, there is a small disappointment about today and missing out on the victory. We are always learning, and and the drivers didn’t have the perfect feeling with the car this morning. We made some changes to the setup later on, and they found good speed again at the end. We are competing at the highest level and it is so, so tight. The overall result is still incredible for our first rally with our new drivers: Not just to have Sébastien and Elfyn both on the podium, but also for Kalle to finish fifth in his first rally at the top level. It is very promising for the future.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing team chairman Akio Toyoda commented saying:
The 2020 season of the FIA World Rally Championship has just started. This year, Rally Japan is in the calendar, which will make it a particularly exciting season for us. For TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, this is a new season that starts with eight new drivers and co-drivers. I am happy to see this new team begin with all four Yaris WRC finishing in the points, and two cars finishing on the podium, with Ogier/Ingrassia second and Evans/Martin third; this is a great start to the season. I really appreciated the team preparing for this season in such a short period of the time. Thank you everyone! However, I reiterated our slogan ‘We hate to lose’ with the new drivers two weeks ago when we held the press conference in Tokyo. So I believe everyone, including me, has a little bit of regret in this season opener. As I said, this year’s team is ‘a team where all drivers can win’. Let’s fight hard together to target the top of the podium and keep working together to make the Yaris stronger. Thank you in advance for our fans to support us this season.
To Sébastien and Julien,
I know that you would have liked to continue your consecutive victories at your home event. Let’s make our Yaris “ever-better” together and try to win as much as possible. We hate to lose!”