31 July 2017
TOYOTA YARIS WRC STARS IN RALLY FINLAND
**Historic first double podium for Toyota team**
**Lappi wins in only his fourth top-level WRC start**
**18 stage victories with 13 one-two podiums and a treble**
The Toyota Yaris WRC has dominated Rally Finland, the World Rally Championship's fastest event, finishing first and third, with victory in 18 of the 25 competition stages.
Finn Esapekka Lappi won by 36 seconds, with Toyota GAZOO Racing team mate Juho Hänninen third after 312.63km of competitive driving on the event's famed smooth gravel roads and jumps.
Lappi won in only his fourth start at the World Rally Championship's highest level while lead development driver Hänninen scored his first podium.
All three Yaris WRC Toyota drivers took stage wins, with Jari-Matti Latvala and Lappi contesting the outright lead until special stage 19 when Latvala was briefly sidelined by an electrical problem.
He stormed back to claim another two stage victories and two vital bonus points in the final Power Stage.
Highlighting a superb team performance, the Yaris WRC cars claimed 13 one-two stage finishes and one stage lock-out with the first three positions.
Lappi's victory gives Toyota two wins from nine starts in its world championship comeback year. Latvala won Rally Sweden in the snow in February.
Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, headed by four-time Rally Finland winner Tommi Mäkinen, is third in the manufacturers' championship. Latvala is fourth in the drivers' title race, Hänninen 9th and Lappi 10th.
Team chairman and Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda praised the team, describing the playing of the Finnish and Japanese national anthems on the podium as a touching moment.
"For me, Finland is a special event as I visited three years ago, talking with Tommi Mäkinen about what makes an ever-better car," Mr Toyoda said.
"Then we started this project, with the idea of learning more about making ever-better cars through rallying.
"Here, I believe our Yaris WRC showed significant performance because it was developed on roads in Finland."
Lappi, who said he is not normally an emotional person, described the rally as amazing.
"What a rally!" he said. "I could never have imagined that we could get a result like this, so it's a very big surprise. I have to say a big thank you to the team because they have built such a great car in a very short period."
The next WRC event sees competitors return to tarmac for Rallye Deutschland, beginning on August 17.
Toyota motorsport: In 2017, Toyota marks the 60th anniversary of its first international motorsport entry (and the first by a Japanese car manufacturer), when it contested the 1957 Round Australia Trial. This is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport. Today, Toyota contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar Rally. Closer to home, the Toyota 86 Racing Series seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia's premier grassroots circuit-racing category.
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Toyota's Esapekka Lappi on his way to victory in Rally Finland.
(L-R) Toyota driver Esappeka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm celebrate victory in Rally Finland.