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TOYOTA GAZOO Racing leads championship after early success
21 March 2019 | Article
The DENSO-sponsored TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team looks set to build on its successful 2018 World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign, maintaining the lead of both championships at Rally Mexico.
The outfit took their first victory of the season at Rally Sweden, before finishing a strong second in the Mexican mountains.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has now won two of the last three Swedish rounds of the WRC, securing their maiden win there just two years previously.
As well as its sponsorship, DENSO also work closely with the team to help hone the performance of the Yaris WRC vehicles and supplies components including radiators.
The Swedish terrain provides a unique and difficult challenge each year. As the only out-and-out winter event on the WRC calendar, the conditions heavily suit Scandinavian drivers, with only three non-Nordic competitors taking victory since the WRC’s first visit in 1973.
As temperatures rose in the lead-up to the opening stage, drivers had to negotiate a crumbling and slippery surface throughout. The 197-mile, 19-stage rally stretched through Norwegian territory on Friday, before covering classic Swedish roads for the remainder of the event.
Estonian ace Ott Tänak looked at home in these gruelling conditions, however, establishing an early lead which only grew as the rally progressed. Piloting the #8 TOYOTA Yaris, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja completed the final stage on Sunday with a sizeable 54-second lead, recording a dominant win.
In just his second event for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Northern Irishman Kris Meeke brought the #5 car home in an impressive sixth place, scoring valuable points for his team.
Tänak then maintained his lead in the driver’s standings with a strong showing in Mexico. Despite suffering an unfortunate puncture in the important Power Stage, the #8 maintained its 100% podium record in 2019 with a late charge throughout the final day of racing.
Kris Meeke also fell victim to the Mexican terrain, suffering a puncture of his own early on day two. The Northern-Irishman recovered in emphatic style however, saving his tyres for the Power Stage where he took four bonus points, boosting the #5 car to fifth place by the end of the race meeting.
DENSO’s OE parts have played a vital role in TOYOTA’s successes so far. Equipping the cars with several DENSO components, including its advanced radiators. The manufacturer worked closely with the team over the winter to help develop and finely-tune the two TOYOTAs.
Using the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing wind tunnel as well as DENSO’s own high-tech facilities, the close partnership has ensured a strong start to the WRC season, particularly in avoiding likely cooling issues at Rally Mexico.
Following the third round, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing sit at the helm of both championships. Ott Tänak tops the driver’s championship for the first time in his career with a 5-point lead, while the team lead the manufacturer’s standings by eight points.
The team now travel to Corsica for the Toure de Corse for the fourth round of 2019. Featuring narrow and winding roads alongside steep drops into the sea, confidence in the car will be key to success. The Toure de Corse takes place between 28-31st March.
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