Published on November 15th, 2022 | by Sounder Rajen0
Toyota Gazoo Racing FIA Season Ends In Heartbreak
Toyota fought hard but sadly fumbled the season finale
The Toyota Gazoo Racing team has been having a sort of a “Cinderella story” run so far at the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season with some of their drivers clawing their way up the leaderboard and fighting so hard for victory, alas, it was all for naught as the team suffered heartbreaking incidents and came up short.
Team Toyota had not competed in the World Rally Championship (WRC) since 2010 and this time around, the team put up a good fight in their GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid car which performed strong at first and even won 11 of the 16 stages over the weekend but the tricky roads ultimately ended up costing the team victory.
On top of that, Elfyn Evans who drives for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team also put on a dominant show this season up until the season finale. He started the race with a four second advantage, leading the pack in a long loop of five stages of 69.82km worth of road but it was all downhill from there.
His four second lead dwindled down to just 0,6 seconds in the fourth stage and where he won that weekend along with co-driver Scott Martin. Despite this, the Toyota team had to stop and change a wheel as well as a tyre the next day after running wide in a downhill right-hander which dropped the team to the fourth overall position.
Moreover, Evans’ bad luck bumped Takamoto Katsuta, driver for Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (TGR WRT) Next Generation, to third. What’s more, heavy rain plagued the final two stages of the race but Katsuta powered on and managed a special podium finish for a second season with co-driver Aaron Johnston.
Furthermore, Sebastian Ogier along with new co-driver, Vincent Landais, put on strong performances as well and even had a solid chance of winning if it were not for the two drivers having to stop for 2 minutes and 44 seconds to replace a tyre in the first stage on Friday.
Ogier also put up the fastest times through Saturday and Sunday which saw him fight tooth and nail to push himself up the leaderboard from the last position to the fourth position overall, putting him ahead of Toyota driver, Elfyn Evans, and winning stage five. He was also only a devastating 2 minutes and 24 seconds behind the winner.
In spite of all this, perhaps the most heartbreaking experience any Toyota driver had to endure was experienced by Kalle Rovanpera, who became the youngest ever WRC champion also slid wide and made contact with a wall forcing him and co-driver Jonne Halttunen to lose substantial time changing a wheel.
All in all, team Toyota did start out strong and put up dominant performances up until the final stretch where circumstances were against the Toyota drivers and as such, they lost out on a victory they came so close to acquiring.