Toyota unfazed by Hyundai’s strong asphalt pace

Hyundai won 79% of the stages in Ypres and locked out the first two steps on the podium


Fifty percent of the mileage remaining in this year’s World Rally Championship is on asphalt – how much of a concern is that to Toyota after it was trounced by Hyundai in Belgium earlier this month?

Trounced. Is that a bit harsh? Maybe beaten’s a better reflection of Toyota’s Ypres Rally. Then again, Hyundai Motorsport’s i20 Coupe WRC won 79% of the stages, led from start to finish, locked out the podium on the first day, won the powerstage on the last day and eventually finished 1-2.

That sounds pretty much like the dictionary definition of a trouncing to me.

What does that means for Rally Spain and Rally Japan – the two remaining all-asphalt events? According to those in the know at Toyota, it means very little. And when Jari-Matti Latvala says it means very little, he really wants to say it means nothing.


“Ypres was very specific,” Latvala told DirtFish. “It’s clear to see the pace is on a different level from the two guys [Thierry Neuville and Craig Breen] who have done this rally in the past. I’m not concerned about Hyundai’s result in Belgium.

“OK, [Ott] Tänak was fastest on the first stage and he hadn’t been there, but maybe he was just the fast starter,” Latvala added.

“Probably we should have taken the softer car from the start, once we changed the set-up to let the car move more in the dirty places and under braking it was better and we could see our drivers setting fastest times. I’m not concerned for this, for me it was about the experience.”

Toyota’s drivers Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier placed third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Evans was – roughly – on the same page as his boss.

“We have to remember this is a specific event,” he told DirtFish. “Of course, we have to understand what happened on the rally and continue to learn; it’s never nice to think your competitor has an edge in certain conditions.

“But we have to remember the two drivers who were at the front had done this event before and had a lot more experience of the roads and the conditions than we did.

“I don’t think that’s all of it, but it was part of the reason [Toyota was beaten]. I’m a bit more relaxed about the overall Tarmac performance, but there’s a lot to be learned from this rally. The surfaces were particularly difficult in terms of changing grip.”