Motorsport: Tough initiation for Toyota team

Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala in action at the Monte Carlo Rally Shakedown. Photo / Getty Images
Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala in action at the Monte Carlo Rally Shakedown. Photo / Getty Images

Coming back to the World Rally Championship from a 17-year absence Toyota got a tough initiation on the opening day of Rally Monte Carlo.

The treacherous near-freezing conditions saw Kiwi Hayden Paddon slid off the road towards the end of the opening test, killing a road-side spectator in the process, which led to the stage being cancelled.

The second and final stage was no easier but the two Toyota drivers safely negotiated the tough test to post the third (Juho Hanninen) and ninth (Jari-Matti Latvala) fastest times.

"The conditions were really tricky," Latvala said. "It was damp, slippery and there was a lot of ice. I was very cautious on the ice, perhaps a bit too cautious, but I wanted to make sure that we got through it without a problem.

"We will make some set-up changes as the car is too low at the moment: we are touching the ground in places."

Hanninen's performance was especially impressive given that he's been out of the WRC for over a year.

"It was not an easy start as we had to wait a long time to begin the stage and everything was cold: brakes and tyres and everything," the Finn said.

"But we did a good job and in the end it was a nice stage time, even though we did not get the chance to drive the first stage at all. The car is definitely good, now it depends also on the driver."

- NZ Herald

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