The start of the rally was not smooth. I could not find the best feeling of driving, yet I was around sixth. Then I had a puncture. I tried to drive too long with a broken tire on stage 2. Finally I had to change the tire which took almost three minutes. This ruined my race because it was very difficult to catch the times on tarmac. The gaps in times in today’s races are very small. I tried to find the right feeling to drive but could not succeed and then on Saturday I had another puncture. We had to change the tire, but the tire didn’t last and once again we had to change it. It took about two minutes and our position was far from the top. Finally the race of many problems was over and our final position was tenth. Not very comforting. After Corsica I realised that things must improve because I could not find the right pace at any point of this rally.
For the last two years Toyota has had problems with engine over heating in the hot and high altitude conditions in rally Mexico. Team had been working really hard and those issues were beaten.
I was too cautious in the beginning of the rally when El Chocolate stage road felt really slippery and the rear of the car was moving a lot. Because of the small loss in the beginning I started to push more and that payed off in form of better driving mood.
I was climbed to the fourth place when the alternator broke in the exactly same place as last year. The car wasn’t charging at all and there were two super special stages and liaisons ahead before the service. You are not able to drive more than 30 minutes without charging with these modern rally cars.
We continued the rally under Rally-2 regulation and we tried to score some points despite our 14 minutes time penalty. I was the fastest car during the saturday, but I got more time penalty because I dropped my starting position behind rally leader Sebastien Ogier. We also made some service in forbidden area and we were late from the start of the stage that’s why we got more time penalty.
In the sunday morning we were at the eight place and we tried to reach seventh place. Then the bottom of the car hit quite heavily and that broke the cooler. We need to fix the cooler with Miikka. My role was the get some liquid for the cooling system. I found some water from 500 meters away from the car (100 m lower level) from the bottom of the dried river. We managed to fix cooler but also got 40 second time penalty because of being late from the start. Were didn’t have enough time to tighten al the bolts of the bumber and we lost it . That’s why were weren’t able score any points from the Power stage, we scored 4 points from the 8th place.
Sebastien Ogier won the rally, Ott Tänak was second and Elfyn Evans third.
From last year’s mistakes about car’s setup were observed. Car felt really fast in the shakedown, and we were fastest in the first pass.
The rally started well I was right behind the leading guys. Conditions at the morning stages were icy and big snow banks guaranteed enjoyable rallying. For the evening loop conditions changed as opposite, slushy, gravel ruts and slushy snow banks.
At the afternoon of friday I was even leading the rally, but at the last stage of the day I really messed up. I assumed that Torsby-stage will be on gravel because of warn temperature but ruts were filled with slush and I tried to push too hard in that conditions. I braked too late and rear of the car hit the bank which sucked the front also to the ditch and there too few spectators. We pushed the car back to the road for more than ten minutes, despite that we reached the end of the stage, rally was ruined for us.
For the two last days I focused on setting good stage times, we managed with that during the morning loops but for the afternoon it was really tough to be second car on the road after Marcus Grönholm. We hit the bank also for the second time and again we need the help of spectators.
I tried to reach extra points from the Power stage, but I was too cautious in the same section were we had gone of on friday and that ruined our possibilities.
We scored zero points and we need to turn our thoughts towards Mexico. Ott Tänak won, Esapekki Lappi was second and Thierry Neuville third.
Third time in “Monte” with Toyota Yaris WRC and 12th as a whole. The last season had ended with really nice feelings in Rally Australia. Nevertheless we were not able to take that success straight to the Rallye Monte Carlo.
In pre-event tests we got quite bad crash and that is why the test kilometres were cutted and none of them on a wet or slushy conditions.
As a tradition rally started in thursday evening with two special stages in the dark. Roads were mixed conditions with ice and dry tarmac. Inexperience in mixed conditions showed up immediately, and I was far behind the top times after two stages.
During the next days driving was improved and I was at my best in the snowy stages. For me and setup of the car didn’t suit for mixed conditions and dry tarmac. In some places I was quite nearby the third place, but I wasn’t able to fight for that. At the end of the rally I was fighting for the fourth place against Sebastien Loeb. Sebastien got a bit more speed at the end I lost the fourth place by one second marginal. The result was disapointment, but you need to think positively. It was a clean rally for us.
Sebastien Ogier won, Thierry Neuville was second and Ott Tänak third.