Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala says next year’s fight for the World Rally Championship will be tougher than ever following Ott Tänak’s decision to return to Hyundai Motorsport.
Tänak has made his intentions clear for 2024: he wants Hyundai to follow Toyota’s example for the last three years and lift both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ crowns.
“For sure,” Latvala told DirtFish, “the challenge will be greater for us to win the championship when [Ott] Tänak is going to Hyundai next year. I am very realistic with this.
“This year our asset has been that we have a very, very reliable car and we need to keep going in the same way next year.”
Toyota secured a seventh manufacturers’ crown with three rounds remaining and the drivers’ title will be fought out between Yaris drivers Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans across the final two rounds.
Latvala insisted Toyota would be taking the positives from this season and doubling down on them in the face of the Hyundai assault next year.
He continued: “As well as the strong, reliable car we need our drivers to match the consistency they achieved this year – this is really important when Hyundai is coming with this line-up.
“Of course, anything can happen in the rallies, but our drivers need to take that consistent and patient way and even when they are attacking hard, we need to be thinking to the title as well as to the individual rallies.
“We talked about this already: we have seen the bond with our crews this year. An example for this is to look at Kalle [Rovanperä] and Taka [Katsuta] going to Japan together last week; they are strong together and it’s the same across the whole team.”