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TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Reigns Supreme with Fourth Consecutive Safari Rally Kenya Victory 

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Reigns Supreme with Fourth Consecutive Safari Rally Kenya Victory 

Toyota leads Manufacturers’ Championship by four points

Dubai, UAE – 04 April 2024: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) World Rally Team (WRT) has won the legendary Safari Rally Kenya for the fourth year in a row, maintaining its unbeaten run on the toughest FIA World Rally Championship round with a one-two finish. Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen sealed the team’s victory after expertly navigating Kenya’s rough, rocky roads and open plains in the No.69 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle, with Takamoto Katsuta and Aaron Johnston following swiftly behind in the No.33 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle. 

This latest triumph not only marks Toyota’s 12th Safari Rally Kenya victory but also propels Toyota into a four-point manufacturers’ championship lead. The result once again demonstrates the strength and reliability of the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID Electric Vehicle, which for this event featured an updated suspension package as well as a distinctive snorkel system: a modern take on an iconic feature of Safari-specification vehicles of the past.

Akio Toyoda, TGR-WRT Chairman, commented, “Congratulations on the first victory this season and on winning Safari Rally Kenya for the fourth year in a row! Kalle, Jonne, congratulations on another victory in Kenya after two years. Takamoto and Aaron, congratulations on returning to the podium in Kenya also after two years!” 

Toyoda added, “The pre-event test just before Kenya was done in Portugal and it was raining heavily at the time. The team reported to me that they had heavy rain “luckily” and many parts got broken. Unlike previous years, the rally was held during the rainy season, and the engineers and mechanics continued to make improvements including the countermeasures for rain until just before the rally started. When I heard the word “luckily”, I recalled the words from GR Yaris engineers. They always tell me, one of the master drivers in Toyota, “Thank you for breaking the car as it will become even stronger!” The same road can be a different road in different seasons and weather, and because we compete on such roads and in such conditions, cars become stronger, and our ever-better car makes progresses. I believe rally is that kind of sport.”

Toyota @ WRC - Rally Kenya - 4_ssict_1200_800

Their victory in the rally was propelled by a stellar performance throughout, with Rovanperä and Halttunen setting the pace and establishing a significant lead early on. Despite encountering challenges on the longest and most demanding stage, they maintained a commanding position, showcasing both skill and strategy. With their lead comfortably secured, the No.69 crew approached the final stages with a safety-first approach, ultimately securing top podium position for the second time since their run in 2022’s edition. Katsuta, alongside Johnston, achieved his third podium result from four starts in Kenya, repeating his second-place finish from 2021.

Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 ‎Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established TGR, ‎to consolidate all of its motorsport activities under one in-house brand. Representing ‎Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ TGR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to ‎making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of various motorsports events, TGR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.

The championship continues this month with Rally Croatia, scheduled from 18-21 April. Set against the backdrop of the capital city, Zagreb, this event unfolds on demanding asphalt roads, blending high-speed stretches with intricate technical sections.

Race Notes:

  • No. 69 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (Kalle Rovanperä & Jonne Halttunen)
  • Position: 1st 
  • Time: 3 hours, 36 minutes, and 4.0 seconds
  • No. 33 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (Takamoto Katsuta & Aaron Johnston)
  • Position: 2nd
  • Time: 3 hours, 37 minutes, and 41.8 seconds (+1m37.8s)

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