Lorenzo Bertelli found it “inspiring” to work with reigning world champion team Toyota on Rally Sweden.
Bertelli, a long-time customer of M-Sport who drove a Ford Puma Rally1 to a career-best seventh on Rally New Zealand last year, became the first driver to hire a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 on the World Rally Championship’s only full snow rally.
He was running in the top 10 on Friday before an off into a snowbank dropped him down the order. Bertelli eventually brought the car home in 14th, topping his previous best result on the event of 18th.
“It’s my best Rally Sweden and I was happy with the pace,” he said.
“Just disappointed on Friday with the mistake because I could have ended in top 10 and that sort of position would have been amazing.
“But I’m super happy anyway: great car, nice stages, happy with the pace, so nothing more to ask.”
Asked what it was like to work with a different team, having driven M-Sport’s Fords in the WRC for the past decade, Bertelli said: “To have the possibility to work with Toyota has been amazing because I learn things that are done in a different way. It doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse, it’s just different. So for me it was inspiring. Also I learned really a lot just this weekend.”
Having driven only a couple of rallies each season for the past few years, and with only one previous Rally1 appearance, Bertelli was understandably rusty on the stages.
“The 2017 cars, the limit is much higher. The previous one was easier to drive than this one, but the limit of this one is hard to drive.
“I think the biggest thing is, more than the car, for me it’s to get used to the pacenotes and the co-driver. Because when I did the test the times were not so far [away] and I’m much closer than I am on the rally.
“So it means that the feeling with the car is there, it’s more the feeling with the pacenotes, the road, it’s more that. If I see the drop in performance [between] the test and rally, the big difference is with the pacenotes.”
Work commitments will prevent Bertelli making regular WRC appearances but a further outing in the Toyota this year is a possibility.
“Three or four weeks I’ve got left [of holiday],” he said. “Let me plan properly; maybe I can do another one. For sure Italy [is an option], also Greece is back in the calendar, I like it.”