Latvala “never dreamed” of “perfect" first year as Toyota WRC boss

Toyota World Rally Championship boss Jari-Matti Latvala says his first year at the helm has been “perfect” after scooping up a drivers’ and manufacturers’ title double.

Latvala “never dreamed” of “perfect" first year as Toyota WRC boss

The former Toyota, Volkswagen and M-Sport driver was installed as team boss of the Japanese marque’s WRC programme this year, taking over the position held by four-time WRC champion Tommi Makinen.

Latvala has overseen a successful 2021 campaign resulting in Toyota reclaiming the manufacturers’ crown from rivals Hyundai, recording nine wins from 12 rounds.

Toyota drivers finished first and second in the drivers’ title as Sebastien Ogier beat Elfyn Evans to the championship.

Reflecting on his first year of team management, Latvala admitted he would never have dreamed of such a successful first year in the job.

“When you have had a long season and you try to reach the title and eventually when you reach then the emptiness comes. You are relieved but you feel a bit empty at the same time," said Latvala.

“For myself this is a very unique situation and very emotional one way as in 2018 Toyota won the constructors title in Australia, and I won it as a driver and now we have done the same as a team principal.

“We have had an amazing season with nine victories, Seb, Julien, Elfyn and Scott one and two in the championship.

"You cannot ask for more, it's a perfect season which I would never have dreamed of.”

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

While admitting team management has proved to be a learning curve, Latvala says watching his drivers Ogier, Evans, Kalle Rovnapera and Takamoto Katsuta has made him realise why he never won a championship as a driver.

“Watching our drivers it is a bit sad to say but now I realise why I didn’t become a world champion myself,” he added.

“I know what the mistakes I did when I look at these guys. It is nice learning but at the same time quite sad.

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“We managed to get everyone working together and everyone is aiming for the same target and that is a new world for me.

“I have never managed such a big group of people and at the same time we need to make sure that the drivers are happy, so that they can do their best performance. It has been quite a lot of learning to keep everyone motivated.”

Latvala will face a brand new challenge next year as the WRC welcomes in new Rally1 hybrid regulations.

Toyota underwent a test in France this week with is all-new GR Yaris which was cut short after Evans suffered a crash that required the car to undergo a repair away from the test site.

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