Welsh driver Elfyn Evans led the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team to the manufacturer’s title in the World Rally Championship at the weekend in South America.
The team retained their crown as manufacturers’ champions and are guaranteed another clean sweep of FIA World Rally Championship titles in 2023 after an exciting finale to Rally Chile on Sunday.
Elfyn Evans (above) finished third, just ahead of team-mates Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta. These results, together with Rovanperä and Evans achieving a one-two on the rally-ending Power Stage to claim the maximum available bonus points, were enough to secure the manufacturers’ title with two rounds still to go subject to official confirmation.
It is the fourth time, and third year in a row, that TGR-WRT have won the title since the team were formed. It is Toyota’s seventh manufacturers’ crown since 1993.
TGR-WRT are also now guaranteed to have their fifth consecutive drivers’ and co-drivers’ champions. The efforts of Rovanperä and Evans on the Power Stage ensured that only they and their respective navigators Jonne Halttunen and Scott Martin can win this year’s titles. Rovanperä and Halttunen lead Evans and Martin by 31 points with 60 available from the last two events.
The return to Chile for the first time since 2019 was far from straightforward, presenting teams and drivers not only with a large number of new roads but also some rather different conditions, with the event taking place in spring rather than autumn.
Evans was in the mix for the rally win before he and his team-mates suffered unexpectedly high tyre wear on extremely abrasive stages on Saturday. He continued to push for a podium place and was rewarded when another driver ahead was caught out by the tricky roads in Sunday’s penultimate test.
Elfyn Evans said, “Overall, the weekend was perhaps not what we hoped for and I think there was potential for more. We didn’t quite get it all right this time around even though we had some good speed at times. But I think we can be relatively happy with our podium.
“The best news is that the team has clinched the manufacturers’ title. It’s an honour to be a part of the team and it’s great to reward everybody for all their hard work. In the drivers’ championship we probably needed to close a bit more on Kalle this weekend than we did, but at least the fight is still alive.”
As points leader, Rovanperä had lost more time on Friday after having to run first on roads that were far drier and looser than four years ago. But he would bounce back on the day of his 23rd birthday with his sixth Power Stage win of the season, which meant he only conceded two points of his pre-event advantage over Evans.
Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston – who have contributed to the manufacturers’ title success after stepping up into the main TGR-WRT line-up this year to share a car with Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais – ensured that all three of the team’s cars finished in the top five at the end of a demanding weekend.