Reigning world rally champion Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans will be taking part in the Hyacenter Rally next week with the goal to ensure they’re ready for the World Rally Championship’s return to Finland next month.
This season, WRC teams have chosen to partake in local rallies as a result of the FIA’s decision to introduce new testing limits in an effort to cut costs.
As a result, manufacturer teams are only allowed to test for a maximum of seven days, as opposed to the 28 days given last year. To make up for the missed test mileage, Toyota, Hyundai, and M-Sport Ford have all decided to enter their Rally1 vehicles in national rallies this year.
Toyota has only ever participated in a local rally once, fielding Takamoto Katsuta in the Finnish Rally Championship round in Kuopio back in February just before Rally Sweden.
Rovanpera and Evans who are the team’s lead drivers, will now compete in the Hyacenter Rally which will take place in Tampere, Finland on July 28 and 29. This rally will be underway one week after this weekend’s WRC round in Estonia and just a few days before the start of Rally Finland.
Ott Tanak has also been entered into the event by M-Sport, making this the third national rally start of the year for the Estonian driver in the Ford Puma Rally1. The 2019 world rally champion carried out outings in Otepaa, Estonia in February then competed in the Belgian Rally Ardennes and the Estonian Louna-Eesti Rally in March.
The Toyota GR Yaris and Puma driven by Rovanpera, Evans and Tanak will have to compete in three rallies in back-to-back weekends.
Eight stages totaling 80 kilometers, some of which were on roads utilized in past Rally Finland events will be faced by competitors in the Hyacenter Rally. The competition will serve as the ideal warm-up for Rally Finland, which serves as the Toyota team’s home round in the world championship.
After Tanak’s superb performance last year, Toyota missed out on winning at home depriving Rovanpera of the triumph.
This year, Toyota will enter four vehicles in the race as team boss Jari-Matti Latvala will be stepping out of retirement to race in a GR Yaris.
Latvala will undertake a pre-event test before the rally after clocking his first stage miles in the car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend.