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Toyota drivers aim for Championship amid rising pressure from Hyundai

jari matti latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala took on the role of team principal at Toyota in early 2021. Under his leadership, the Japanese manufacturer has consistently secured both the constructors’ and drivers’ titles each year. However, this year presents new challenges.

As the current season of the World Rally Championship (WRC) progresses, Toyota finds itself in a tight battle with Hyundai for supremacy. Toyota drivers have won half of the six rallies held so far, yet Hyundai is gaining momentum in the constructors’ standings. With the primary objective being the constructors’ championship, the pressure on Toyota to deliver is mounting.

Jari-Matti Latvala took on the role of team principal at Toyota in early 2021. Under his leadership, the Japanese manufacturer has consistently secured both the constructors’ and drivers’ titles each year. However, this year presents new challenges.

For the 2024 season, Toyota has Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta competing in every round, while star drivers Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä are only participating in selected events. Interestingly, the victories have come solely from part-timers Ogier and Rovanperä, while Evans and Katsuta have struggled with inconsistent performances.

Latvala has expressed a sense of responsibility for the team’s recent underperformance. In an interview with Dirtfish, he acknowledged, “The situation is certainly not the best. I can say that I need to do a better job. At the moment, I can’t necessarily manage the drivers in the best way.”

This level of performance is not what Toyota is accustomed to. Thierry Neuville of Hyundai has managed to overtake Evans in the drivers’ championship, and Toyota is trailing Hyundai by 13 points in the constructors’ standings.

The team is focused on closing this gap in the upcoming rallies. Latvala is committed to improving the situation, stating, “I need to raise my hand and then try to see what I can do with them, to get the best performance from the drivers. We can see that the car is good. But at the moment, the drivers’ performances have not been the best.”

The previous WRC round in Sardinia highlighted these challenges. Ogier was a strong contender for victory but had to yield to Hyundai’s Ott Tänak due to a punctured tire in the final stage. Evans finished fourth, and Katsuta was forced to retire due to a technical issue.

As the season progresses, Toyota must refine its strategy and performance to regain its dominant position. The team’s resilience and ability to adapt will be crucial in their quest to reclaim the lead from Hyundai and secure the coveted constructors’ championship.