Ogier, Evans and Rovanperä: An exciting new line-up to drive the Toyota Yaris WRC in 2020 | Toyota | Global Newsroom
Jari-Matti, thank you for fighting with us for three years.
When I visited Finland for the first time in 2014, Toyota had not yet decided to come back to the WRC. I was so excited because it was my first WRC visit and I stood in the hotel lobby to see the drivers in person. Jari-Matti, then a VW driver, was the first driver to arrive. When I excitedly greeted you, you said a friendly hello. While chatting, you noticed me as someone from Toyota, and you happily talked to me about your Corolla and Celica. This was the moment I made the decision to come back; we needed to come back to WRC while such a driver remembered Toyota competing.
You could say that if I didn’t see such a friendly VW driver back then, then maybe Toyota would not be in the WRC now!
When I heard you would become our driver two years later, I was very moved by this wonderful fate. Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season that we could win in our first season. The target was to get a podium finish within a year. However, you brought Toyota to the podium immediately in Monte-Carlo. And then, you brought us to the top of the podium the following month in Sweden. It was a dream experience.
I was so glad that we could finally stand together on the podium last year in Finland. When I look back at pictures from afterwards, I noticed that I sprayed the champagne bottle given by Ott towards you at first. I believe it shows how much I got excited for my first podium together with you.
I know you cherish your Corolla and Celica very much, so I believe you will continue to be a Toyota supporter. Let’s stay in touch.
Kris, you have worked hard for Toyota. You always attacked to the maximum and pushed the car to the limit, and gave a lot of advice from the viewpoint of a former engineer. This has made the Yaris stronger. Thank you for your contribution this year.
Lastly, Ott, I am happy like myself that you finally achieved your dream, becoming World Rally Champion. Myself and Toyota are very proud of helping to achieve it.
Unlike Mr. Tomoyama (President, GAZOO Racing Company), I have not been good at climbing the podium, but you taught me how to do it in Finland last year. Thanks to you, I could see the view from the top of the podium and get to know how sticky the champagne is. I really appreciated it.
I think your decision, “After achieving the goal, I want a new challenge with different environment”, is simply amazing. You will become Toyota’s rival next year. For us, having a strong rival is big motivation to move forward.
Because you have taught me how to stand on the top of the podium and how to open champagne bottles well, I can shower the champagne to you from higher position when we see each other the next time. See you again on the podium!