Fresh from its latest manufacturers’ championship success, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team will face an all-new challenge at the penultimate round of the 2023 season: the Central European Rally, 26 – 29 October in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
After TGR-WRT secured its third consecutive manufacturers’ title on the previous rally in Chile, attention now turns to whether Kalle Rovanperä or Elfyn Evans will win this year’s drivers’ title – the team’s fifth in succession – with their respective navigators Jonne Halttunen and Scott Martin in contention for the co-drivers’ crown.
There are 31 points between Rovanperä and Evans with a maximum of 60 available from the final two rounds, meaning Rovanperä could clinch his second consecutive championship in Central Europe if Evans does not outscore him. An Evans victory, on the other hand, would guarantee that their battle goes down to the wire at the final round at Rally Japan in November.
Joining them in the line-up for the Central European Rally will be eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, with Takamoto Katsuta to drive a fourth GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid through the TGR WRC Challenge Program.
Following seven consecutive events on gravel on a wide variety of different roads across the globe, this will be the first round to be held on asphalt since the Croatia Rally in April. It will be the first modern FIA World Rally Championship round to feature stages driven in three different countries, marking a return to Germany for the first time since 2019 as well as a debut on Czech roads and Austria’s first appearance since the inaugural season in 1973.
The service park will be located in the German city of Passau with shakedown to take place in nearby Tittling on Wednesday afternoon. The rally will start from the Czech capital city Prague and its famous castle on Thursday lunchtime, before an opening super special stage at the Velká Chuchle horse racing course on the outskirts of the city. A further circuit stage around Klatovy follows in the evening before crews return to Passau.
Friday’s action also takes place solely on Czech roads, with a trio of stages to be run twice either side of a tyre-fitting zone in Prachatice. Saturday’s route features two tests in Austria and another in Germany, all to be repeated after mid-day service in Passau, while one stage on either side of the German-Austrian border will be run twice to form Sunday’s finale.
WRC Promoter has pledged its commitment to the safeguarding of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making the FIA World Rally Championship and FIA European Rally Championship the first FIA championships and motorsport stakeholders to take this step.
WRC Promoter joins World Rowing as the only sporting organisations having logged a commitment to protecting UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In 2022, WRC exemplified its dedication to steering towards a more sustainable future by becoming the first FIA World Championship to adopt 100 per cent sustainable fuels. This remarkable feat was coupled with the introduction of pioneering hybrid-powered Rally1 vehicles.
However, future-proofing rallying goes beyond more sustainable vehicles. With WRC and ERC events taking place in the natural environment, the practice of rallying holds a close connection with and an interest in securing healthy and well-preserved ecosystems, thus WRC Promoter´s commitment toward UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their outstanding universal value and foundation for ecosystems and biodiversity conservation.
In its capacity to formulate the WRC and ERC calendars, as well as its regulatory right of approval over event itineraries, WRC Promoter commits to not negatively impacting current and future designated natural and mixed UNESCO World Heritage Sites and their attached buffer zones.