Latvala expected another 1-2-3-4 finish to take a decade

Toyota repeated its top four lockout on the Safari this year, which Jari-Matti Latvala never saw coming


If there was one man you’d want on your team for a World Rally Championship pub quiz, it’s Jari-Matti Latvala.

What the most experienced WRC driver of all-time doesn’t know about rallying, frankly, isn’t worth knowing.

That’s why when Toyota secured an historic 1-2-3-4 finish on last year’s Safari Rally Kenya, Latvala was the first one to appreciate the significance of the achievement beyond what it meant in the present day.

“To achieve a 1-2-3-4 here at the Safari Rally is an exceptional result,” he said. “It’s nearly 30 years since Toyota managed the same feat here in Kenya with the Celica and I can only thank our team and our drivers for the superb job they have done.”

Back in 1993, Toyota had locked out the top four with Juha Kankkunen, Markku Alén, Ian Duncan and Yasuhiro Iwase. The Latvala-led operation had just done the same thing, on the same rally, with Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans, Takamoto Katsuta and Sébastien Ogier.

It was the first 1-2-3-4 finish for a single manufacturer in the WRC since Citroën swept Rally Bulgaria in 2010, which was the first since Toyota’s domination of the 1993 Safari.

Latvala therefore was fairly sure that it wouldn’t happen again any time soon.

“When we won this 1-2-3-4 last year I thought it was something that takes decades to win,” he said at the weekend.

But, for once, Latvala got it wrong.

It took just 12 months for Toyota to score another top-four lockout on Safari Rally Kenya, led home this time by Ogier.

Latvala is sure that can’t be a coincidence.


“I’m really proud of this result, of this team, and of our drivers,” he said.

“Coming to Kenya this year I didn’t think we could achieve a 1-2-3-4 again when the competition has been so tight recently. But I think it is not a coincidence that we have managed to do this result here two years in a row.

“It means we have done things right in the team to prepare for this event, that our crews have done a great job, and that all comes together to make this result possible.

“We have an excellent team of people, a reliable and strong car, and then we have the drivers who have the patience in this event to drive a clever way, which is a combination of driving fast but also slowing down for the rough places and understanding the history of this event, and coming with the right philosophy has achieved this result.

“I have to say thank you to everybody.”