This season will be the last of the current iteration of WRC cars, first introduced in 2017, as the championship moves to new hybrid Rally1 regulations next year.
The rule change has seen Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford juggle fighting for this year’s title with designing, building and developing all-new hybrid cars for next season.
While Hyundai has proved it has the fastest car, Toyota is currently leading both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships having won five of the six rallies so far this year.
Despite Toyota’s dominance, Latvala feels his team cannot completely take its eye off this year and throw all of its efforts into developing its new hybrid GR Yaris.
“I have been in a situation in the past where there was a new car coming and we stopped developing the current car and suddenly the other manufacturer was a lot more competitive. We really started to struggle”, Latvala told Motorsport.com.
“The fact is for me we cannot stop completely the development work with the current car.
“We have to keep going until the end of the year, but for sure there are no major things coming anymore, like the engine update that came for Portugal. For sure the engine side there is not going to be any changes.
“The transmission side, we have homologated all the parts, we can’t homologate any more parts. And then the rest of the things that we are trying to do on the suspension side and the weight of the car are little details where we can try to improve until the end of the year.”
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Photo by: Toyota Racing
Toyota revealed images of its new GR Yaris in May, while testing and development work on the car is set to continue this month.
In images released by the team, the new Yaris features an aggressive aero package with bulging vents on the side of the car designed to cool the hybrid system’s batteries.
“I must say it looks really impressive and I think the tubes at the side of the car which are coming out makes it really aggressive looking, but the purpose of those is cooling the batteries for the hybrid unit,” Latvala added.
“We call it a new car. We have had the batteries installed on the car and we are able to get some feedback from those and have been driving with the batteries.
“Hopefully let’s say we can get the proper whole 2022 car ready to be testing maybe at the end of July.”
M-Sport Ford became the first team to officially launch its 2022 car last week when it took the covers off its all-new Puma at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Rivals Hyundai also released images of its new i20 recently and like Toyota it will continue pressing forward with its current car as it fights for this year’s WRC title.
Puma Rally1 WRC Prototype
Photo by: M-Sport
However, Hyundai boss Andrea Adamo admits there isn’t much more development to come on the current i20 WRC, but the squad will have some developments to run at this weekend’s Rally Estonia.
“We never stop to develop the current car as long as we define what it means to develop,” Adamo told Motorsport.com.
“For sure in terms of homologation we are finished. We homologate new things on July 1 which we will start to have in Estonia and it will be normal preparation for the rallies.
“We have two different teams one if for the current car and the other is fully focussed on next year and they won’t interfere with each other.”