TOYOTA has blown wide open the 2017 World rally Championship with an impressive win in the snow and ice of Rally Sweden.

After being out of the game for 17 years, the Japanese marque returned to the planet’s premier rally platform in seriously fine style.

Japanese Marque Makes Indelible Mark in Second Rally of 2017

Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila drove the #10 Toyota Yaris WRC to victory through extraordinary terrain, taking a slender 3.8-second lead into the final day then smashing all three stages to extend their winning margin to 29.2 seconds.

Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja finished second in their M-Sport-prepped Ford Fiesta RS WRC, with reigning champions, Frenchmen Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia, also driving an M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC,  third.

(And in case you’re wondering, that’s me with my brilliant young Finnish mate,  Miikka Anttila. The pic was taken by yet another delightful mate,  Anne-Chantal Pauwels Teste, a fine journo herself and amazingWRC pilote d’hélicoptère).

Toyota’s Brand Pushe the Excitement Button

The victory is a huge boost for Toyotaback in this extraordinary sport to build excitement into its brand – and undoubtedly a real injection for the WRC

Toyota President Akio Toyodawas over the moon. Always confident of a win, he didn’t expect one quite so soon! Meanwhile his Team principal Tommi Mäkinen was ecstatic.

It was Toyota‘s first WRC win since the 1999 Rally China, and the first time in three years any driver other than four-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier has led the championship. Ogier then drove with Volkswagen, which dominated the sport since entering in 2013 before pulling the pin last year to curb costs.

Latvala and Anttila now lead the 2017 Driver’s Championship, with Toyota sitting  second in the Manufacturer‘s title race behind M-Sport. The next round is the Rally Mexico starting March 9.

Edited by AC