GAZOO Racing Celebrates Victory at Rally Sweden
Amman, March 2020: The GAZOO Racing (GR) World Rally Team (WRT) continued its outstanding start to the season with a dominant performance at the recent Rally Sweden. Elfyn Evans took the top spot during his second time behind the wheel of the No. 33 Toyota Yaris WRC. He was joined on the podium by 19-year-old rookie sensation Kalle Rovanperä, who came out ahead in the No. 69 Toyota Yaris WRC to claim third place following a thrilling battle with his world champion teammate Sébastien Ogier in the No. 17 Toyota Yaris WRC.
Together, the all-new driver lineup built on their successful GR debut at last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo to take Toyota into pole position in the manufacturers' championship, while Evans now jointly leads the drivers’ championship for the first time in his career. Evans led the event from start to finish to record his second FIA WRC victory, having previously won on home soil at Wales Rally GB in 2017. It was the first-ever WRC win for co-driver Scott Martin, and together they are the first British competitors to ever win Rally Sweden, which was a founding round of the WRC in 1973.
Having won five of the previous eight stages, Evans had built up a cushion of 17.2 seconds going into the final day in the No. 33 Toyota Yaris WRC. This allowed him to take a relatively cautious approach through the tricky deciding test and still secure the win by 12.7 seconds. Already impressive on his debut at rallying's top level during Rallye Monte-Carlo, Rovanperä reached another level at Rally Sweden, climbing as high as second overall at one point on the second day in the No. 69 Toyota Yaris WRC. He and Ogier traded third place several times during day three, but it was Ogier who went into the fourth and final day with an advantage of half a second in the No. 17 Toyota Yaris WRC.
In the tricky conditions of the 21.19-kilometer Likenäs stage, Rovanperä was 3.7 seconds faster than anybody else, taking his first-ever WRC stage win and the maximum five bonus points on offer in the Power Stage. This makes him the youngest ever podium finisher during a WRC round, more than two years younger than the previous record holder. Ogier still managed to achieve the third-fastest time during the stage to claim fourth position overall, collecting a strong points haul towards the driver’s championship, where he is currently in third place - five points behind Evans.
“Evans and Martin brought the first victory of the season to our new-look team. Elfyn and Scott; congratulations. I am really happy that a new member is already achieving great results together with the team,” said Akio Toyoda, Team Chairman. “Kalle and Jonne also climbed on the third step of the podium after a big fight, with only a three-second gap against Seb and Julien. I also appreciate these four guys for scoring great points and exciting the fans. My GR teammates, let's keep winning, and thank you in advance to our fans for supporting us this season.”
The season continues next month with Rally Mexico between 12 - 15 March, 2020.