Important success for Toyota’s WRC team’s promise, Finnish coach pointed out: “The journey is still long!”

Yuki Yamamoto, who is part of Toyota's WRC team's challenger programme, achieved an important success in Rally Estonia last weekend.
Yuki Yamamoto
Yuki Yamamoto. Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
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Although finishing in the points remained a dream, a clean rally and 12th place were nonetheless significant results for Yamamoto. The previous three rallies had ended in retirements, so this time it was crucial for the Japanese promise and his co-driver Marko Salminen to reach the finish.

Yamamoto had to retire from both the Croatia, Portugal, and Rally Sardinia, but in Estonia, he completed all the kilometres. Despite a gap of four and a half minutes to the lead, the pace was promising at times. Yamamoto had already made an impression during the winter season, finishing fourth in the SM Rally in Tuuri.

Hikaru Kogure, who is at the same stage in the challenger programme as Yamamoto, could not compete in Estonia due to a collarbone injury sustained in Sardinia. However, Kogure was able to participate in the recce, which was important since the WRC points will be contested in Estonia again next summer.

“A good race from Yuki after a couple of tougher ones. We knew that this type of road suited him better, but the conditions were really difficult and varied a lot,” said challenger programme coach Juho Hänninen, referring to the heavy rain showers during the race.

“By reaching the finish, Yuki secured a good amount of experience in varying conditions. That is important if we return to this race later. In some sections, the pace was quite good. When the conditions were tough, there was a drop in pace. However, he was more in the zone than in previous rallies.”

According to Hänninen, it was really important that the Japanese protégé managed to keep his composure on the fast gravel roads.

“It was great to see how patient he is and drove at a speed that remained under control. At the same time, he saw the pace at the front, as the level in this race was extremely high. That surely reminds Yuki that the journey is still long and there is a lot of work to be done,” Hänninen summarised.

“It was a pity that Hikaru could not compete, but luckily he was at least able to do the recce. The main thing is that he is in good shape for Rally Finland and the tests leading up to it.”

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