Toyota Gazoo Racing’s rally technical director, Tom Fowler, provided an update on the team’s Yaris WRC work before the start of Tour de Corse 2018.
Martin Holmes asked him about their progress.
“Things are progressing well. The main things we've been working on in the end of last year and the beginning of this year has been the ‘jokers’ (the homologation extras) that we've applied to the car,” Fowler said.
“We have the new changes in the aerodynamic package and we have been working on weight reduction throughout the car. We're on target with that”.
MH: Is this to improve handling?TF: “It is essentially to improve sheer performance by being able to have the car below the weight limit and then adding ballast. The majority of our efforts has been towards effectively being able to be on the weight limit all the time.
“In general we can be with the car, but the issue comes on rallies where there's a possibility to pick up dirt from the road, which varies from event to event.
“In some events we haven't been able to control our weight so carefully because we have so much dirt on the car and no possibility to make the car any lighter. That's been the main target.”
MH: There was an alternator issue in Mexico.TF: “It was a failure for Latvala - no connection with the ECU issue in Finland last year. That was the first alternator problem we've had during a rally with this car. That is still being investigated.”
MH: Overheating issues in Mexico?TF: “I think the main thing to point out is that we were running a system in the car that is designed to look after the engine, to make sure that we don’t suffer engine damage. That's a new feature for reliability purposes.
“Obviously the target was to avoid triggering that system, to stay below those thresholds. Unfortunately in El Chocolate stage (Mexico) in particular that system was triggered a few times. This reduced the performance of the engine.
“We need to improve our cooling capacity so that we don't do that in the future. A lot of work was done, but clearly it wasn't enough and our target is obviously to get that rectified as quickly as possible.
“Although it is not something we want to repeat, it wasn't so disastrous that it ruined things, we were still in with a reasonable chance of victory.”
MH: What preparation are you making for the rest of the season?TF: “Argentina is a gravel rally and our set-up now is quite consistent. The Yaris has had really good pace on gravel.
“In Mexico we had good pace, we won the PowerStage, we won six stages in total. In that sense we don't have a lot to do in terms of the pace.
“Our main priority at the moment is to get the reliability so the drivers have the possibility to fight for the victory.”
MH: Viewing your drivers, do you think Tanak is settling in?TF: “He seems to have got used to the car very quickly. He's working very well with the team and brings us fresh information and fresh view points, good for everybody.”
“Esapekka has had some good events and good stages. I think in Mexico he was at a big disadvantage compared to the other drivers because of his (lack of) experience.
“We can't expect him always to be fighting with the guys that have got 10 years experience in some of these events!”
MH: And Latvala?TF: “He’s had some very good performances. It’s always a big difficulty when you've got new drivers fighting you in the team.”
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