Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda has declared Elfyn Evans the driving force behind Toyota’s third successive World Rally Championship manufacturers’ crown.
Despite claiming two wins to Kalle Rovanperä’s three and trailing him by 31 points, Evans’ unrelenting consistency has, in the eyes of Toyoda, been key to Toyota’s success in 2023.
Despite a rare off-color weekend in Chile, the Jyväskylä-based outfit’s 47-point haul was enough to guarantee its hat-trick of world championships.
Toyoda said: “This year Elfyn was the driving force behind the manufacturers’ title with six podiums including two wins out of 11 events so far. Elfyn and Scott, thank you for getting the third place, which became the deciding factor to conclude the title today.
“And Kalle and Jonne’s three victories were of course a big help as well. I hope both Elfyn and Kalle will drive without regrets for the remaining two rallies, in Central Europe and Japan. I am confident that the team will prepare the best cars, so I expect you two will give it your all.”
Toyoda believes Toyota has “become even stronger” this year, claiming the championship one round earlier than it did in 2022.
“I would like to thank Jari-Matti [Latvala] from the bottom of my heart for continuing to work with everybody to make the team stronger after already winning the manufacturers’ title in his first year as the team principal,” he said.
“I am really looking forward to seeing everybody in Japan!”
There’s little denying the fact that Toyota has been one step ahead of the opposition this season with regards to both operations and performance.
Its driver lineup has been virtually unparalleled, whereas M-Sport and Hyundai have thrown their weight behind clearly defined number one drivers. In the end Toyota has, for the third time in four years, effectively managed an intra-team battle for the championship.
Latvala believes Toyota’s improved reliability – citing its rejuvenated form on hard, rough gravel rallies – has been key to its 2023 success.
“I have to say that the competition level is hard, the cars’ level is close to each other but I think the most important part where we have made the difference is the reliability, that we have been able to bring the cars home without problems and I think that for the championship is one of the crucial points,” Latvala said.
“When the Rally1 came to the WRC in the ’22 season, of course we were strong but we could also notice our weaknesses especially on hard, rough gravel and we have done some work for that and managed to improve the car on those conditions which was really nice to see and I think that continuous development work and continuous approach to make ever better cars has helped us to achieve this title.
“It is the earliest we have ever got the title as Toyota Gazoo Racing, so it shows that we have done things right and also the drivers been doing a great job.”