Latvala hopes Toyoda’s passion will lure other WRC manufacturers

Toyota team principal hopes Akio Toyoda's love for motorsport sends a message to other automakers


Jari-Matti Latvala hopes Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda’s passion for rallying will help entice more manufacturers to the World Rally Championship.

Toyoda was acting as Toyota’s team principal throughout last weekend’s Rally Finland as Latvala, who occupies the position on a full-time basis, made a one-off return behind the wheel with Toyoda’s blessing.

Toyoda is a well-known motorsport fan and competes under an alias ‘Morizo’, and is also the man responsible for the resumption of Toyota’s WRC program in 2017 after 18 years away.

That commitment is unwavering for the foreseeable future as Toyoda explained to DirtFish, and Latvala hopes this clear passion Toyoda has for motorsport will inspire other global automakers that the WRC is a great way to showcase their brand and its products.

“Akio did a great job [as team principal],” Latvala told DirtFish.

“I mean he was there everywhere in meet the crews, he came to media zones, he was there autograph signings and he really did the job properly and he had also enjoyed and that’s one of the most important things from the weekend.

“[But] the most important thing we can see for me was the passion Akio has for motorsport.

“As a Toyota car manufacturer, I hope that this would give some sort of message to other car manufacturers to take part in WRC and also come here to enjoy and do nice things, do it with motorsport.”

Latvala’s reflection on his one-off return


Elfyn Evans may have won the rally in impressive fashion, but nobody was happier than Latvala and co-driver Juho Hänninen throughout the Rally Finland weekend.

On a mission to sample Rally Finland one more time before he turns 40, and also to learn more about how the Rally1 cars work, Latvala had a ball on his way to fifth place overall – complete with a bonus point from the powerstage!

The best way to convey Latvala’s enjoyment from the weekend is to just share the entire interview transcript between him and DirtFish from Sunday’s media zone.

By the end of the weekend he was very tired, but still smiling:

Tell us what the feeling is like of what you’ve achieved

“It’s a fantastic feeling. I’m so happy. What we wanted to achieve,we really achieved it. We thought that top five was really maximum of what I can do.”


What was the result you had targeted in your head?

“With Juho we agreed that we’d check how is the Rally2s, make sure the speed is good enough to be ahead of Rally2s, that’s really what we discussed. We thought that it would be difficult with the Rally1s, with the boys driving so much.

“Four years is quite a long break so I don’t necessarily have chance to fight with them, but just let’s concentrate on our speed and let’s see that we can keep the Rally2 cars behind. That was really the target that we thought, and we knew that OK if somebody has a problem we have chances to get higher in the position, but it was quite a surprise how many retirements we saw already on Friday.”

I haven't had this kind of World Rally Championship round ever in my life, so you will always remember this one Jari-Matti Latvala

How does it feel to have achieved that?

“I think one of the greatest things here is that in the past it was very difficult for me to hold my mind when I was losing time, and that’s what I was able to overcome this weekend. Really we had a decision that we would drive our own race, we don’t care about the times and we managed to keep it. We didn’t overreact on any of that and then eventually getting in one extra point from the powerstage is like a cherry on top of the cake.”

This wasn’t your best performance, but in terms of the amount of fun you’ve had this weekend it must be right up there

“Yes definitely. To have fun, enjoy, be relaxed, these were the things that Akio Toyoda said to me. These three things: smile, relax, enjoy. And I think we really achieved those. No problems, we didn’t have any big mistakes. OK one moment today but generally [it was a] trouble-free rally. It’s amazing. I haven’t had this kind of World Rally Championship round ever in my life, so you will always remember this one.”


Does it make you a better team principal?

“I hope so! Anyway now in the future it’s [going to be] a lot easier to communicate with the boys when you know the behavior of the car, the nature of the car, what they are talking [about], what they need.

“Now I understand how the hybrid works, how is the EV, how you connect the system, how you disconnect it, all these kind of things. So now it’s been full understanding of the car which is a lot easier for me now to understand all the interviews when the boys are if there is a problem or how things were.”

Word for Juho, because this was a proper team job

“Yeah he did a great job. Thanks to Juho, amazing performance. He managed to keep me under the control and made me keep myself relaxed and we had this good fun. He made really sure that we had good fun and that is what I can say, big thanks to Juho.”