Toyota team principal Tommi Mäkinen has been left to rue the testing his team did prior to Rally Estonia, feeling that the conditions it faced there were not representative of the newest World Rally Championship event.
Former Toyota driver Ott Tänak took victory on what was an encouraging rally for Hyundai, which looks to have unlocked some new potential from its i20 Coupe WRC on the championship’s faster roads.
Although Toyota got all three of its manufacturers’ championship-scoring cars to the finish, it was outscored by Hyundai despite it losing Thierry Neuville. As a result, Toyota’s lead in the standings has now been trimmed down to five points.
Kalle Rovanperä looked like he had the pace to challenge winner Tänak, but Sébastien Ogier didn’t feel like he extracted all of his potential in the Yaris WRC despite finishing third, and Elfyn Evans openly admitted he struggled for confidence at certain points of the rally.
“Generally I would say that the drivers are not absolutely 100% satisfied because some lack of some small item, but I would say overall the result is pretty good and at least we learn something from here in different conditions,” Makinen said.
“We learned that we did our preparation test in too fast conditions, we had no realistic condition, it [the rally] was completely different conditions to what we did our preparations beforehand in. I think that’s the answer why our car was not absolutely perfect all over.”
Evans finished fourth but was often third best of the Toyota drivers in Estonia, with the manufacturer championship points scorers being joined by junior driver Takamoto Katsuta.
“I think there’s little tweaks [that] we can also work with the car to be honest but we know the car is generally strong,” Evans told DirtFish. “But I think all three of us could still find small improvements so yeah, we can build on it let’s say.”
The Rally Sweden winner doesn’t expect any issues on Rally Turkey though, having enjoyed a very productive test for the September 18-20 event.
“We’ve done our test [for Turkey] and in terms of the balance and the feeling in the car I was actually really happy coming away from the test.
“OK a test is a test, it’s not in Turkey of course we can’t test in Turkey so we have to hope that that feeling does transfer but overall I’m looking forward to Turkey.
“We know it’s not an easy rally, it’s not an out-and-out sprint perhaps just like here [in Estonia]. It’s going to be tough on [both] car and driver but very much looking forward to it and I hope the car feels as good as on the test.”