Akio Toyoda loves motorsport. Akio Toyoda loves rallying. But this weekend gives Toyota Gazoo Racing’s chairman his first chance to have a hands-on role in the World Rally Championship.
“The next WRC round is held in our hometown, Jyväskylä, Finland. I asked Jari-Matti to be a driver there so that I will have a good reason to be on site as an alternate team principal!”
So as Latvala readies himself for World Rally Championship start #210, Toyoda will step in as an active team principal for Rally Finland.
Handily, he’s already got an idea of what to do after observing his successor as Toyota president, Koji Sato, at the recent Rally Estonia.
“How should I act as an alternate team principal? Sato showed me a good example. He started the day joining the drivers and engineers meeting every early morning and always stayed in the service park until the night service finished,” Toyoda explained.
“It seems that he kept on communicating with the team members and always fought alongside the team.
“Jari-Matti as a team principal also always comes to the service park early in the morning and he never misses morning greetings to the team members.
“During Rally Finland, I will follow them, communicate a lot with the team members, and hopefully help the team.
“I will head to Finland fully prepared for the team to carry the good momentum from Kenya and Estonia into the next round.
“We need to win. We will win!”
Defiant and charismatic as you like, it’ll be just as interesting to see a new figurehead in Toyota’s service park as it will its current team principal flying a GR Yaris Rally1 between the trees.