Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team will seek to wrap up another successful FIA World Rally Championship season with a home win at Rally Japan this week 16-19 November.
Just as in 2022 when the event made a welcome return to the WRC calendar, TGR-WRT will arrive for the final round on Japanese roads having already secured a hat-trick of championship titles. The team clinched the manufacturers’ title at round 11 of 13 in Chile, before Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen claimed their second successive drivers’ and co-drivers’ crowns at last month’s Central European Rally.
Elfyn Evans (above) was a contender for victory in Japan a year ago and arrives in second place in the drivers’ standings, seven points ahead of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). Sébastien Ogier also showed the pace to win in Japan last year and will aim for the fourth victory of his partial 2023 schedule.
He said, “Rally Japan is going to be an important rally for me and the team, and we obviously want to finish the season on a high.
“We were in contention for the win until quite late on last year and would like to put that right. Hopefully we can find thesame kind of pace this time around. Even though we know most of the stages from last year, there are still some unknowns because we can’t test on these kind of roads beforehand. The set-up is therefore a bit of a guess based on what we had last year and what we’ve learned since, but we will do our best to adapt.”
Takamoto Katsuta achieved a memorable podium finish at his home event in 2022 and once again lines up in a fourth GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid with the support of the TGR WRC Challenge Program.
Rally Japan takes place on demanding asphalt roads in the mountains of the Aichi and Gifu prefectures, near the city of Nagoya. Many of these are technical and narrow, twisting through forests with constantly changing grip levels.
The service park will again be located at Toyota Stadium, which this year, in addition to the start and finish ceremonies, will host competitive action. This be a super special, run as the first stage on Thursday evening and again at the end of Friday and Saturday.
Friday is the longest day of the rally at 83 competitive miles and includes a familiar trio of stages north-east of Toyota City to be run twice either side of midday service.
Saturday takes the action south around Okazaki, where two passes of a super special will precede a midday tyre fitting zone. The morning’s opening two mountain tests are repeated in the afternoon before a further stage near Shinshiro and the return to Toyota Stadium. Six stages will conclude the rally on Sunday, taking the event north-east to Nakatsugawa where another tyre fitting zone splits two loops of three stages.