Toyota Takes Manufacturers Titles in Global and Australian Rally Championships
Toyota has clinched its sixth World Rally Championship (WRC) manufacturers' crown and the 2022 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) manufacturers' title after a dramatic weekend of racing in Spain, and here at home at The Bend in South Australia.
A superb win in Rally de España by eight-time world drivers' titleholder Sébastien Ogier sealed victory in style for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in the 2022 WRC manufacturers' championship.
The success in Spain gives the team a clean sweep of the three available titles with Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen winning the drivers' and co-drivers' titles on the previous rally in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Australia's Lewis Bates has stormed into the lead of the ARC drivers' title race with a dominant victory in the Adelaide Hills Rally, including maximum bonus points in the power stage.
The win by the TRGA team has given Toyota a large enough lead in the manufacturers' standings to secure the title for the 2022 ARC season ahead of the final round in NSW on 25-27 November.
In a career-best performance, Lewis backed up his inaugural ARC triumph - achieved in the Gippsland Rally in August - while brother and reigning champion Harry Bates' campaign was marred by an engine fire.
The SA win by Lewis, who shares his GR Yaris AP4 with co-driver Anthony McLoughlin, means the fight for the ARC drivers' title will go down to the wire between the Bates brothers.
Lewis said he is looking forward to continuing the contest with Harry at the title-deciding Coffs Coast Rally.
"It was unfortunate for them (Harry and co-driver John McCarthy) to have their issues because it was a cool battle we were in; it was intense and we were all enjoying it so I hope we can continue that in Coffs Harbour," Lewis told reporters.
"The GR Yaris was amazing all weekend, straight out the box it just clicked. It felt like I was at one with the car from that first stage on Friday night and that carried on all the way through."
In Spain, Toyota topped the manufacturers' classification for the third time since it returned to the series in 2017. It was the team's seventh win this season with the GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid and a first for Ogier who is competing part-time.
Ogier was among the pacesetters from the start, winning three stages on Friday. He pulled away from the pack with three more stage wins in a commanding performance on Saturday, then won the last two stages of the rally on Sunday, including the power stage.
Rovanperä was also in the battle for the lead on Friday when he was fastest in four stages, and eventually finished in third position overall.
A third team driver Elfyn Evans finishes sixth overall, scoring valuable points to help the team towards its main goal.
Team founder Akio Toyoda, offering his congratulations, said many fans were looking forward to seeing the team perform at next month's Rally Japan.
"The team, after a big celebration tonight, will start preparing towards the final round from tomorrow so that many people in Japan will be able to see the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID being driven as a champion car," Mr Toyoda said.