The DENSO-sponsored TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team is building on its successful 2018 World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign, maintaining the lead of both championships after Rally Mexico.
The outfit took their first victory of the season at Rally Sweden, before finishing a strong second in the Mexican mountains.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has now won two of the last three Swedish rounds of the WRC, securing their maiden win there just two years previously.
Rally-bred components for independents
As well as its sponsorship, DENSO also work closely with the team to help hone the performance of the Yaris WRC vehicles and supplies components including radiators.
The Swedish terrain provides a unique and difficult challenge each year, Denso said.
As the only out-and-out winter event on the WRC calendar, the conditions have heavily suited Scandinavian drivers, with only three non-Nordic competitors taking victory since the WRC’s first visit in 1973.
As temperatures rose in the lead-up to the opening stage, drivers had to negotiate a crumbling and slippery surface throughout.
The 197-mile, 19-stage rally stretched through Norwegian territory on Friday, before covering classic Swedish roads for the remainder of the event.
Estonian driver Ott Tänak established an early lead which only grew as the rally progressed.
Piloting the #8 TOYOTA Yaris WRC, Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja completed the final stage on Sunday with a sizeable 54-second lead -recording a dominant win.
In just his second event for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Northern Irishman Kris Meeke brought the #5 car home in sixth place, scoring points for the team.
Tänak then maintained his lead in the drivers’ standings with a strong showing in Mexico.
Despite suffering a broken wheel rim in the Power Stage, the #8 maintained its 100 per cent podium record in 2019 with a late charge throughout the final day of racing.
Kris Meeke also fell victim to the Mexican terrain, suffering a puncture of his own early on day two.
The Northern-Irishman recovered however, saving his tyres for the Power Stage where he took four bonus points, boosting the #5 car to fifth place by the end of the rally.
Winning partnership with DENSO parts
DENSO’s OE parts have played their role in TOYOTA’s successes so far, equipping the cars with several DENSO components, including its radiators.
The manufacturer worked closely with the team over the winter to help develop and finely-tune the two TOYOTAs.
Using the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing wind tunnel as well as DENSO’s own high-tech facilities, the close partnership has ensured a strong start to the WRC season, using its radiator to avoid common cooling issues at Rally Mexico.
Following the third round, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing sit at the summit of both championships.
Ott Tänak tops the drivers’ championship with a four-point lead, while the team lead the manufacturers’ standings by eight points.
The team now travel to Corsica for the Tour de Corse for the fourth round of 2019.
The Tour de Corse takes place between 28-31 March.
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