Toyota returns to WRC glory and Colin McRae’s name is flamboyantly done proud
Toyota has returned to World Rally headlines, with its Yaris WRC taking victory in Sweden.
The 2017 season’s second round saw Jari-Matti Latvala win, and take the championship lead, after Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville lost a significant lead when he damaged his car during Saturday night’s Super Special Stage.
It’s Toyota’s first WRC win since 1999, and the first under new team boss Tommi Makinen. Latvala and Neuville had been close for much of the rally, so Toyota’s Finnish driver – yep, another flying Finn – was a worthy inheritor of the rally lead. Both notched up six stage wins over the rally weekend, but Latvala’s were most crucial.
Estonian Ott Tanak and Frenchman Sebastien Ogier rounded out the WRC podium, both in Ford Fiestas. The forests were full of exuberant (i.e. drunk) Tanak fans, and some storming stage wins on Saturday set up a wholly deserved second-place. He’s one to watch this year among more familiar opposition.
Rally Sweden is one with a huge following, and despite temperatures plummeting well into minus double figures, families dressed in brightly coloured ski gear filled the forests.
Nowhere is this more obvious than at Colin’s Crest, the most famous jump of the rally, named after Colin McRae. Of course.
A stadium atmosphere sees an announcer gee up the freezing fans and count down to each car’s arrival, totting up how many metres the car hangs in mid-air for. Did this year see the 45m record beaten?
A bit more of Latvala in action. We assume he’ll be sending this out as 2017’s Christmas card.
Likewise this shot for Ogier. Festive, even for February.
After beating his teammates using last year’s DS3 in Monte Carlo, Citroen promoted Craig Breen to the 2017-spec C3. And he did them proud, finishing fifth, and once again best of the Citroens.
Kiwi Hayden Paddon gets some air at Colin’s Crest in his Hyundai i20. But he wasn’t the highest driver this year…
That honour goes to Mads Osberg, who fell just one metre short of the record, with a 44m jump. The stage which includes Colin’s Crest takes place twice – and Osberg warmed up with a 42m jump earlier in the day. Watch the video of that here.
Time for Dani Sordo’s Christmas card shoot.
Kris Meeke gets a smidge of air in his Citroen C3. It was another disappointing rally for the Brit.
Never mind the rally; it’s minus 15 and these fellas want to keep warm. Might need a bigger fire, lads.
It’s a snow-covered rally, so there is sliding. Flipping loads of it. Tanak gets a dab of oppo on here.
Ogier shows off his fancy-pants light pod. Is it just us, or is a gaggle of big spotlights still cooler?
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville in service, speaking to some of his mechanics. He gave them some work to do on Saturday night when he crashed out, surrendering a healthy lead of the rally. Their handiwork ensured he still took some points home on Sunday.
As well as the top WRC boys, there are plenty of competitors in lower rungs of the championship, most of them Fiestas, Fabias and DS3s. Some of the rally’s most committed-looking driving was found among these cars.
We end back with Rally Sweden winner Latvala, alongside co-driver Mika Anttila and their boss, Tommi Makinen. Well done, boys.