Toyota Accelerates Yaris WRC Program
* Three Yaris WRC cars to compete for second consecutive rally *
* Lappi to focus on testing and development *
* Hard, rocky surfaces to challenge tyres and suspension *
Toyota will fast-track the progress of its Yaris WRC program with a three-car team entered for the second consecutive World Rally Championship round this weekend.
Reigning WRC2 champion Esapekka Lappi will focus on testing and development in the third Yaris WRC in the Rally Italia Sardegna, competing alongside teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen.
Lappi impressed on his first outing in the Yaris WRC at last month's Rally de Portugal where he finished 10th and was fourth fastest on the Power Stage.
"We had a good result in Portugal, but that only alters the expectations from other people: it doesn't make any difference to me personally," Lappi said.
"I just want to have a problem-free rally and get to the finish. I'm going to be trying some new parts on the car, so my job is to collect data for the team and gain more experience."
The team will benefit from lessons learned during a two-day test in Sardinia earlier this season as well as this year's gravel rallies in Portugal and Argentina.
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen said it was important to clock up mileage to gain as much data as possible for the development of the Yaris WRC.
"I would like to see three cars at the finish and if we can score some points as well, then even better," he said.
Rally Italia Sardegna features fast and narrow stages coated with fine, sandy gravel and exposed rocks that can cause punctures and suspension damage.
Latvala, who sits third in the drivers' standings, won in Sardinia in 2009 and has four other podium finishes in the tough event.
Hänninen has also contested the event four times while Lappi has previous experience from his WRC2 campaign.
The seventh round of this year's championship, the rally involves 312.66km over 19 competitive stages from Thursday to Sunday.
In 2017, Toyota marks the 60th anniversary of its first international motorsport entry (and the first by a Japanese car manufacturer), when it contested the 1957 Round Australia Trial.
This is why many people consider Australia to be the birthplace of Toyota motorsport.
Today, Toyota contests the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship (WRC), World Endurance Championship (WEC) which features the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gruelling Dakar Rally.
Closer to home, the Toyota 86 Racing Series seeks to develop the talent of tomorrow as Australia's premier grassroots circuit-racing category.