TOYOTA GAZOO Racing clinches podium finish at Central European Rally

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Clinches Podium Finish at Central European Rally

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – 08 November 2023: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) World Rally Team’s (WRT) Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen have secured their second consecutive FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) titles after finishing second in the No. 69 GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric vehicle in the penultimate round of the 2023 season, the Central European Rally.

After being crowned the youngest-ever World Rally Champion in 2022 while driving the No.69 GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric vehicle, 23-year-old Rovanperä has now become the sixth driver to achieve consecutive titles in the history of the WRC.

It’s the fifth year in a row that a TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crew has won the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championship, and also completed a third straight hat-trick of titles after Toyota clinched the manufacturers’ championship during the previous Rally Chile.

Akio Toyoda, TGR-WRT Chairman, commented, “Kalle, Jonne, congratulations on winning your second consecutive drivers’ and co-drivers’ championship titles! Kalle steadily accumulated points and started to lead the drivers’ standings from the middle of the season, showing us what a strong champion is like. I also would like to thank Elfyn Evans a lot for his aggressive driving and for not giving up until the end. His driving with the strong desire to win was impressive. The 2023 season is not over yet. Elfyn and Scott missed something in Japan last year. I hope they will collect it this year and let me stand on the podium next month in Japan.”

Rovanperä made a strong start of the inaugural cross-border Central European Rally, which began in Prague and continued across the Czech Republic, Austria and Lower Bavaria in Germany. He won four out of six stages on demanding wet asphalt roads in the Czech Republic to lead by 36.4 seconds. Rovanperä’s perseverance and determination kept him firmly among the top contenders in the rally, despite the numerous challenges posed by the routes in Austria. A calculated approach throughout the last stretch of the rally allowed him to achieve his seventh podium of the season, one in which he has already secured three victories and, crucially, finished in the top four in all but one of the 12 rounds held.

In a related context, members of the Abdul Latif Jameel-sponsored GR Saudi Team continued to make waves after their recent participation in the third and final round of the Autocross, Drift and Time Attack competitions that was held at Dirab Park in Riyadh. Abdullah Kabbani came in third place in the overall standings of this round. Mahmoud Abed and Hamza Bakhashab, ranked first and second respectively in the G1 category of the Autocross competition, while Abdullah Kabbani secured first place in the G3 category and Reem Alaboud came first in the Ladies Cup. In the Time Attack competition, Mahmoud Abed and Hamza Bakhashab came first and second respectively in the G1 category while Abdullah Kabbani secured second place in the G2 category and Reem Al Aboud came second in the Ladies Cup.

The 2023 season will conclude on home roads for TGR at Rally Japan on November 16-19. The event returned to the WRC calendar last year across tough asphalt roads in the mountains of the Aichi and Gifu prefectures, around the service park in Toyota City near Nagoya.

Race Notes:

  • No.69 GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric vehicle (Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen)
  • Position: 2nd
  • Time: 2:53:37.5