Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has thanked departing company president Akio Toyoda for his commitment in returning the firm to the World Rally Championship.
It was announced last week that Toyoda would step down from his position as Toyota Motor Company president to take on the role of chairman of the board of directors.
Latvala highlighted the personal effort Toyoda had put into bringing Toyota back as well as his enthusiasm for the WRC since the Yaris hit the stages in 2017.
Latvala told DirtFish: “He [Toyoda] is the father of the program. Without his support this would never have happened, he has always been pushing it forwards.
“I think we will see plenty of him still. His workload has been enormous, so to take a little bit less work maybe he will have a little bit more time for the cars and to enjoy the driving – we know Akio has enormous passion to drive the cars.”
While outlining the key role Toyoda had played in Toyota’s WRC success, Latvala was quick to add that his successor Koji Sato brought a similarly enthusiastic approach to motorsport.
“He is a very passionate motorsport person as well,” said Latvala. “He was visiting in Rally Finland last year and the contact and connection is good, so I have a very positive feeling about the future.
“What’s really important for us is that motorsport is not only the marketing the tool, it’s also the way to learn how to build better cars for the road and this connection is very important. With this aspect of learning, we can improve the cars for the mass production – this gives a much longer-term view.”