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THE ORGANISERS OF THE CHE GUEVARA ENERGY DRINK TOUR DE CORSE HAVE TRIMMED THE ROUTE FOR NEXT SEASON'S EVENT IN A BID TO MAKE IT MORE ACCESSIBLE TO SPECTATORS.

The asphalt event, which has moved from the end of September to an earlier 6-9 April slot on the 2017 WRC calendar, will cover 316.76 competitive kilometres next season – 74.16km less than crews tackled in 2016.

The 2017 route will consist of the same ten stages that were used in 2016 and are spread across the Mediterranean island, although some have been lightly modified by the FFSA, the rally organiser and the governing body of French motorsport.

The length of the four stages that will run on Friday have been reduced by 37.04km, while Saturday's four tests have been shortened by 37.12km.

Sunday's route remains the same as the one used in 2016, with the 53.78km run through Antisanti-Poggio di Nazza – the longest stage of the rally – kicking off the final 64.20km of competitive action.

The service park will continue to be located at Bastia Airport and will be used between the ceremonial start in Ajaccio and the podium celebrations in Porto Vecchio at the end of the rally.

Although the rally route has been shortened, rally organisers are confident the 2017 event will continue to be a formidable challenge for the crews taking part.

“Once again, the French Motor Sports Federation’s aim is to enable the greatest number of fans to enjoy a magic setting and an event that’s like no other on the Île de Beauté," David Serieys, Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse Race Director, said.

"For 2017, we’ve laid on a shorter route for the teams and crews entered in the World Rally Championship, but it’s still as tough. The result will be an action-packed rally which, we hope, will appeal to the greatest possible number of people."

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TOYOTA GAZOO RACING HAS CONFIRMED THAT JARI-MATTI LATVALA WILL LEAD ITS DRIVER LINE UP FOR THE UPCOMING WRC SEASON AFTER THE TEAM OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED ITS 2017 PROGRAMME IN HELSINKI THIS AFTERNOON.

Latvala, who was left without a manufacturer seat when Volkswagen opted to withdraw from the series last month, joins compatriot Juho Hänninen – who was unveiled by the Japanese squad in October – in Toyota's Yaris WRC. Both men will make their debuts in the car at January's season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (19-22 January).

The Finland-based team, which is being led by four-time WRC title winner Tommi Mäkinen, has also announced that newly-crowned WRC 2 champion, Esapekka Lappi, has joined its ranks as test driver.

This afternoon's official launch brings an end to months of speculation about which drivers will get the chance to lead the Japanese manufacturer's assault on the WRC as it returns to competition action after a 17-year absence.

The Toyota Yaris WRC will make its WRC debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo

Latvala is pleased to secure his WRC future and is excited about the new challenge that lies ahead. "I started my rally career in a Toyota Corolla GT back in 2001 and my first competitive outing in a World Rally Car was behind the wheel of a Corolla WRC in 2003," the 16-time WRC rally winner said. "In many ways it feels like I'm coming home.

"I'm really happy to join the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team from the very start and lead this new adventure with them. I feel lucky to be part of this story and I hope we will take a lot of victories in it."

Fello Finn, Lappi, who won the 2016 WRC 2 title at last month's Kennards Hire Rally Australia, is relishing the chance to acquaint himself with a 2017-spec World Rally Car as he continues his development as a driver.

The 25-year-old said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my co-driver Janne Ferm. It's a dream come true. We have both worked so hard over the years to get to this point and finally, it's here. We're excited and motivated about joining the team and we're extremely grateful for this opportunity. I can't wait to start our testing programme with the Yaris WRC."

Lappi, who is considered one of the WRC's hottest young talents, is expected to drive a third Yaris WRC on selected events in 2017, although Toyota Gazoo Racing has yet to confirm when this will happen.

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TOYOTA PRESIDENT AKIO TOYODA PAID TRIBUTE TO TEAM GREATS DURING THE JAPANESE MANUFACTURER’S LAUNCH OF ITS 2017 WRC SQUAD IN HELSINKI ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON.

Toyoda, who masterminded the company’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, recalled the success of former champions as Toyota won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ titles before leaving the sport in 1999.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to express my respect for everyone who created a strong bond between rally and Toyota and etched that bond into people’s memory,” said Toyoda, who is also chairman of Toyota Gazoo Racing.

“They include the late Ove Andersson, who launched Toyota’s team in the 1970s and led since then, the late Björn Waldegård who catapulted Toyota to fame in WRC in the 1980s, and Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol who captured drivers’ championships for Toyota in the 1990s.”

Rumours of a possible Toyota return first surfaced when Toyoda attended Finland’s WRC fixture in 2014 and he recalled that trip with delight.

 

“When I attended the WRC in Finland in July 2014 as a spectator, many fans asked when Toyota would be returning to the rally.

“I was extremely surprised and delighted that even after more than 10 years, many people remembered that once Toyota competed in WRC,” he said.

Toyoda drove the Yaris WRC recently, accompanied by team principal Tommi Mäkinen, and the experience convinced him the team is ready for its debut at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January).

“Perceiving the car’s sound and smell, the feel of the steering wheel and pedals, and, more than anything else, the look on Tommi’s face, I was able to share with him a feeling of confidence in our ability to compete with this car.

“We will be doing our very best throughout this final month, right up until the WRC begins, so that we can as quickly as possible assure long-time fans that Toyota is back as the king of this kind of event and put smiles on old and new fans’ faces by affirming their choice to support our team,” added Toyoda.

TOYOTA YARIS WRC TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION  
Engine 4-cylinder, 1600cc turbo, direct injection
Power 380PS
Torque 425Nm
Bore / Stroke 83.8mm / 72.5mm
Gearbox 6-speed hydraulic shift
Drive 4-wheel drive, active centre and mechanical front and rear differentials
Clutch Double plate
Suspension MacPherson
Steering Hydraulic rack and pinion
Brakes 300mm gravel / 370mm asphalt
Length 4085mm
Width 1875mm
Wheelbase 2511mm
Weight 1190kg
Top speed 201kph

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M-Sport have confirmed that reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier will pilot the all-new Ford Fiesta WRC for the squad in 2017 alongside Ott Tänak.

Having tested the new Fiesta in Wales last month, Ogier was sufficiently impressed by the team’s latest creation and agreed terms with the Cumbrian outfit to spearhead his championship defence.

Since starting their WRC campaign in 2008, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia have secured four world championships, 38 victories, 56 podiums and an impressive 475 stage wins – and were recently celebrated for their latest success at the glittering 2016 FIA Prize Giving Ceremony in Vienna.

Lining up alongside Ogier and Ingrassia is Tänak and new co-driver Martin Järveoja. The Estonian was crowned this year’s WRC Driver of the Year and is keen to take another step forward.

With the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo just 38 days away, the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship is setting up to be an exciting and unpredictable competition.

Sébastien Ogier said: “There will be a lot of new things this season, but I am definitely looking forward to it. We have a new generation of world rally cars, and a new team – it’s certainly an exciting time.

“There’s not long before we line-up at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo and we’ve not had a lot of seat time with the Ford Fiesta WRC, but we’ll give it our best to be ready. We’re aware of the challenges, and I can see how hungry Malcolm and his team are for success.

“It’s funny to think that just a few months ago I was sitting at a motor sport forum at Wales Rally GB saying how nice it would be to work with him one day. I had no idea at the time that it would come quite so soon, but here we are!

“I’m looking forward to working with M-Sport, and we’ll certainly be aiming to return them to the top-step of the podium!”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: “We go to Rallye Monte-Carlo with the number one on the door of the Ford Fiesta WRC and the strongest driver line-up we have had in years. To say we’re excited about next season is an understatement. We believe that we have produced an exceptional car, and we are in the best possible position ahead of this exciting new era.

“I’ve made no secret of how much we wanted to work with Sebastien and Julien, and it is fantastic to welcome them to the team. We have worked extremely hard to secure them, and they believe that the Ford Fiesta WRC is the car with which they can best defend their championship.

“With Ott and Martin lining up alongside them, we are in for one hell of a season. Ott has had a very impressive year with consistent speed. He’s played a major role in the development of the new car, and I’m sure that the elusive first victory isn’t too far away!”

 

         

 

 

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