The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team took victory in the Kennards Hire Rally Australia on Sunday with Jari Matti Latvala taking the win by 32.5s from Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon. The win meant that Toyota were also crowned 2018 WRC Manufacturers champions and speaking following the event, Akio Toyoda, Team Chairman of Toyota Gazoo Racing said:

Congratulations to Jari-Matti and Miikka for the Rally Australia win! As you had difficult times this season, I am very glad to see you standing on the top of the podium finally at the end of the year.

And with that victory, we could win the manufacturers’ title.

I feel so grateful, as team chairman, that we could get such a great result in the second year of our challenge after returning to the FIA World Rally Championship following 18 years away!

I am full of gratitude to Tommi who has kept strengthening the Yaris WRC in order to win this title, all the team members who supported Tommi, and the six drivers and co-drivers who kept driving the Yaris towards our goal whatever happened.
Thank you very much, and huge congratulations!

I also feel glad that we could share this pleasure of victory with the fans who kept cheering for us, and also our partners who have fought with us as one. Thank you very much for supporting us.

When this challenge began, we promised with Tommi and the team members only two things:
“We hate to lose! Let’s win together!” and “For that reason, let’s always make sure the current Yaris is the always strongest!”

How could we make driving challenging roads more pleasant? The team constantly examined this and continued to improve the Yaris every day. I believe that this greatest result was achieved because they practiced the belief that “We make today’s Yaris to be better than yesterday’s.”

These promises with Tommi and the team members will not to end with this victory. Our team will continue to learn on the world’s roads so that we make the Yaris the car that drivers want to keep driving. And, Toyota will strive to deliver the lessons we gained here to customers as quickly as possible. I would like to ask for your continuous support for next season as well. Thank you very much.

Team Principal Tommi Makinen was delighted with the result saying:

It’s an absolutely amazing feeling today. This was the toughest final round of a season that I can remember. Ott’s retirement so near the end was a big disappointment, but it was absolutely brilliant that Jari-Matti could win again. Esapekka also helped us score the points we needed. We started this project three-and-a-half years ago and we have developed much faster than we imagined. Last year we were here to learn and to gather data. In the second half of this season we were able to find a lot of improvements with the car. This is the result of the huge effort from everybody in the team, and I am sure this success will just further motivate us all to continue improving in 2019.

Rally winner Jari Matti Latvala commented on the victory saying:

I am so happy to win again. It was quite a relief after such a long time! The conditions today were incredibly demanding, and it would have been very easy to go off the road. Everything went my way today, and I am sorry for Ott that his rally ended in the way it did. I was very excited and nervous at the start of the final stage, but we managed to do it. To win the manufacturers’ title is fantastic. I am so proud of the team and what they have created. Everybody has worked so hard and they deserve this reward!

It was a disappointing end to what had been a promising event for Ott Tanak who had been in contention to win the championship, he was forced to retire from the event after hitting a tree.

Speaking following the event he said:

Congratulations to everybody in the team. They have done a great job. Personally, I can be disappointed about how it ended for me today, but in general I am really happy: I have the strongest car in the championship and strong people around me. It was a great battle all year; we were always trying our best. I went off in a really tricky stage with a lot of muddy places. I think it didn’t change too much in either championship though. I am really happy with my season and we will keep pushing next year.

Esapekka Lappi finished the event in fourth place and speaking following the rally he said:

Today was definitely one of the toughest days of the season: the conditions were very tricky and that meant you couldn’t enjoy the driving quite as much. It is nice to end this part of my career in this way, by helping the team to win the manufacturers’ title. I really wanted to finish on top but at least we had a good rally where we were back on the pace. Thank you to everyone in the team for their support.”

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