Latvala sees big improvements in the Yaris at pre-Sweden test

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As he prepares to tackle his second rally in Toyota's Yaris WRC, Jari-Matti Latvala says recent tests have shown big improvements in the car in the last two months.

Latvala guided the all-new Yaris to an unexpected second place on its debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo, and is now preparing for the high-speed snowy and icy roads of Sweden for the championship's second round [9 - 12 February].

And despite declaring modest expectations for the rally - not least because of his own last-minute arrival at Toyota's WRC team - the Finn was impressed by the progress he saw at a five-day pre-event test.

He said: "I did some snow testing before Christmas with the Yaris WRC and last week as well: even in that short time there have been some big improvements in the car and the whole team, which is the main aim as our target more than anything else this year is just to keep getting better."

But the three-time Rally Sweden winner played down his chances of another podium next week.

"The result in Monte was a very nice surprise but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the same in Sweden: we need to remember that this is still a completely new team and brand new project," he explained.

Team principal Tommi Mäkinen acknowledged that Latvala's Monte-Carlo result would be a tough act to follow.

"Sweden has fewer questions for us as we have some idea where we are now in terms of performance, but maybe the expectation is more given Jari-Matti’s second place," he said.

"We have done a lot of testing on snow and also on gravel: this is really useful as well because the set-up for gravel is not so different than for snow.

"Of course, this is a very fast rally: actually even faster than Finland in many places. But we have found some high-speed roads for testing so we hope that we are quite well prepared.

"We have to work on reliability as we had some small problems in Monte that were troubling Jari-Matti a little bit, but in general I am quite happy with this side of things as well. We know we still have a lot to learn and the target in Sweden, which should suit our drivers well, is to make more progress.”

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