Statement by Akio Toyoda after winning the 8 Hours of Bahrain and the Rally of Japan in the WEC by TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
On the weekend that we had two world championship events for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, and on the weekend that Rally Japan was finally held, there are so many things I would like to say.
First of all, we were able to achieve five World Championship titles so it was a great season for us. Thank you so much to our fans and partners who have been supporting us.
In WEC, #7 GR010 HYBRID won the last round in Bahrain, #8 came in second and therefore won the drivers' championship. Séb, Brendon, Ryo, and the whole #8 team, congratulations on the title!
Kamui, Mike, José, and the #7 team, congratulations on your win in the final round! And thank you so much for everything!
It must have been a difficult season for #7, which was fast in all races. I think next year will be a year in which the drivers will add strength to the speed of the #7.
Kamui and I have been communicating with each other as a team principal and a team founder. He always lets me know how the team is doing before and after races, and he thanked me. Every time I received a message from him as the team principal while he was having frustration as a driver, I realized that I had asked him to play a very tough role. I am truly grateful to him for his efforts as a team principal, as a driver, and for his help for the future of motorsports, despite these difficult feelings. It was a mechanic who was standing in center of the podium of the final round of the season. Seeing him holding up the trophy with a big smile on his face, I could feel that Kamui has built a very warm team. I really thank him for that. The team is really strong. Congratulations!
In Japan, Rally Japan was held for the first time in 12 years and it was Toyota’s first WRC participation in Japan. Rally cars ran on the roads in our home country, local drivers were behind the wheel, and I was able to follow and cheer them from up close. As a rally fan, I am truly impressed that this experience, which I have longed for, has become a reality. I would like to thank Mitsubishi, Subaru and Suzuki for keeping the culture of rallying alive. Thank you very much.
“Roads are tricky, quite slippery with leaves”, “loose visibility in tunnel” … it seemed to be very challenging for all drivers. Fans also had to be patient due to some cancellations and delays. I believe many challenges remained for the first rally to be held in this area, however, I sincerely hope to continue this rally.
The autumn air blowing through the colorful trees, the Japanese cityscape in the background, and the narrow streets that nurtured small cars such as those which are popular in Japan. The WRC gave the whole world a chance to see the "various Japanese scenes" that we are proud of.
The people are really warm, the rivers are different from those in Europe, the white guardrails on the roads are unique and that's very Japanese to me. Team members told me many things. We are also reminded that there are still many Japan-originated things that we are unaware of. We hope that Rally Japan will continue to make improvements in a Japanese way, nurture the culture of rallying, and make Rally Japan an indispensable autumn tradition in Japan in the future.
It was also great that the team members competing in the WRC finally came to Japan. I was in Belgium as well, but it was so special to see “my family” in Japan. I was so happy to spend time with the team that I wanted to sleep over at the service park. I really thank Jari-Matti who is making a great team.
The crews already clinched the championship at the previous round in Spain, and they gave it their all for Toyota fans in Japan. And I felt they were trying hard to let me stand on the podium. Seb, Vincent, Elfyn, Scott, Kalle, Jonne, Takamoto, and Aaron, thank you all so much. In the end, we had tire problems and other issues that made driving difficult. I feel sorry and I wanted them to enjoy Japanese roads more. We will continue to improve the car so that they will enjoy driving on Japanese roads again next year.
And finally to Takamoto!
Thank you for standing on the podium in our home rally! Congratulations! I believe that you returned the favor to the people who have helped you. It was impressive that you were standing on the podium amidst the blessings of these people. However, my dream has not come true yet. I want to stand on the podium with you. You stand in the center, and I stand beside you. It might be Rally Japan next year, or it might be some other rally, but please continue your challenge from tomorrow to make it come true!
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Team Founder of WRC and WEC
P.S. to Norihiko Katsuta
I am sorry that you had a crash, and thank you for finishing the rally. Thanks to that, GR Yaris became stronger. I intend to have you work on it even more next year! The members who you said are like “family” will continue to support you and I’m looking forward to working with you next season.