Toyota City, Japan, Jan 19, 2024 – (JCN Newswire via SeaPRwire.com) – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will target a successful start to the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo on January 25-28.
The team enters the new season with strong ambitions having won a hat-trick of manufacturers’, drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles in each of the past three years. It continues to develop and improve the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID to make it even stronger: the engine has been updated to further improve response at low speeds, and the torque curve has been improved. Meanwhile, the car has a dramatically different look for the new season thanks to a bold matte black livery.
While the technical regulations remain stable, a radical change has been made to the WRC points system for 2024, aimed at enhancing the sporting spectacle on the final day of rallies. Points will now be allocated based on the positions at the end of Saturday on a scale of 18-15-13-10-8-6-4-3-2-1, although crews must still reach the finish of the rally on Sunday to be awarded these points. A separate classification will combine all of Sunday’s stages and award points on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. The rally-ending Power Stage remains in place offering up to five bonus points.
TGR-WRT will aim high at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a driver line-up that includes Sébastien Ogier, who in 2023 claimed his record ninth victory on the event, which is once more based in his hometown of Gap in the French Alps. Elfyn Evans was championship runner-up last year with three victories, including the final round in Japan, and has a strong past record in Monte Carlo with a best finish of second in 2021. Takamoto Katsuta graduates from the TGR WRC Challenge Program into a full-time place in the factory line-up this year and has finished in the points on his four previous Monte starts in the top category.
The oldest and best-known event on the WRC calendar, Rallye Monte-Carlo is also considered one of the most demanding thanks to the often-changeable weather conditions, which can bring ice and snow to the asphalt roads. Tyre choice is therefore crucial, with an expanded range of rubber – some fitted with studs – available to suit the conditions.
The service park returns to Gap following two years in Monaco itself. The Principality will still host the start ceremony on Thursday afternoon before two night-time stages closer to Gap. On Friday there’s a return for three stages just to the east of Gap, each run twice either side of mid-day service. Saturday follows a similar format with three repeated tests to the west of Gap, including the Les Nonières stage which last featured in 1997.
The final leg on Sunday starts from Gap with a third visit to Friday’s La Bréole-Selonnet stage, followed by a single pass over the Col du Corobin from Digne-Les-Bains. The rally-ending Power Stage is an uphill blast towards the legendary Col de Turini, before the official prize giving in Monaco’s Casino Square.
Rallye Monte-Carlo will also be the competitive WRC debut of the GR Yaris Rally2. Four cars will be in action, fielded by four different customer teams: Printsport for Sami Pajari, Burton Racing for Stéphane Lefebvre, ERACE WRT for Bryan Bouffier, and Teo Martín Motorsport for Jan Solans. Lefebvre, Bouffier and Solans are all entered to score WRC2 points on round one.
In another exciting debut, the Special Edition GR Yaris models of Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä will be revealed in Casino Square in Monaco on Thursday at 14:45 before the rally start.
Quotes:Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)“We have enjoyed some fantastic success over the last few seasons and we naturally hope to continue this in 2024. We expect an even greater challenge and it will be even tougher to claim all the titles. To win the manufacturers’ championship once again will be our primary target, and if we can achieve the drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles too, that would be a really great bonus. Our team is working hard all the time to develop the car through the season and make it an ever-better car. With Rallye Monte-Carlo, we start with one of the most demanding rallies, and I think a good weekend there can really give you a confidence boost. So Elfyn and Taka will be trying to make the best possible starts to their seasons, and it’s always exciting to have Seb driving with us on his home roads where he has been so strong before. We’re also really excited to see the GR Yaris Rally2 in action: after testing we’re feeling confident in the car, but it’s only now in competition that we can really see the level it’s at and gather more feedback for future development.”
Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)“It’s always exciting to start a new season, especially with Rallye Monte-Carlo. The 2023 season was a nice progression for us that showed we’re going in the right direction. Of course, we want even more in 2024 but it’s not going to be easy to achieve that. We know that the competition will be tough like usual, so as a team we’re always working to continually improve and we’re ready to give this season our best shot. With Rallye Monte-Carlo moving north again this year, we’re much more likely to see wintery conditions forming part of the challenge. We had some tricky conditions in our pre-event test, so that provided some good practice, but this rally is all about adapting to whichever conditions we face during the weekend.”
Sébastien Ogier / Vincent Landais
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)“I’m happy to be at the start of another season after all these years, and I take this opportunity with both hands. The last couple of years have been good fun with the team and we managed to secure some good results. I think we want to keep going this way as long as we can and that’s the plan for 2024, starting with Rallye Monte-Carlo of course. For me this is a must-do event and there’s a lot of hopes for this first rally. I think it’s the rally that you need to respect more than any other as the conditions can be so challenging, which means that nothing is guaranteed. Numbers are never my main motivation, but if I could get a 10th win on this event it would be something very special.”
Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron Johnston
Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)“It’s always nice to be back in the mountains around Monte Carlo ready to start a new season. Every year there is more expectation but I like this pressure and I want to fight at the front, so I will try to have even better results in 2024. I want to be consistently in the podium fight, and to try to get a first victory. I will enjoy it and keep pushing the limits and working hard. The engineers are pushing a lot to improve the car further and I can feel in the factory that everybody is working hard, so I’m confident that we can be even better than last year. Rallye Monte-Carlo is one of the trickiest rallies in terms of the conditions with difficult tyre choices, but we’re up for the challenge.”
Map Rallye Monte-Carlo 2024 (Please visit www.wrc.com for the latest.)
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