TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program drivers Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure gained valuable new experience as they made their second WRC2 starts at the Croatia Rally on April 18-21: a demanding first asphalt event for them behind the wheel of the GR Yaris Rally2.

Since joining the FIA World Rally Championship schedule in 2021, the Croatia Rally has gained a reputation as one of the most demanding asphalt events. The grip levels are constantly changing, with the addition of mud and gravel being dragged onto the stage by each passing car – a particular challenge for Yamamoto and Kogure running further down the road order as part of a competitive WRC2 field.

Another new element for the young Japanese drivers’ debut on asphalt at this level was to work for the first time with gravel crews, who drive through the stages in advance to check the conditions and modify pace-notes accordingly. The main aim for both drivers was to gather as much experience as possible, which they achieved by driving every stage during the weekend.

Both almost made it through the first and longest day of the rally on Friday without major incident. In the afternoon’s final stage, Yamamoto had a spin and could continue, but Kogure was not so fortunate, spinning and hitting a bank on the inside of a corner and damaging a radiator, forcing him to stop.

Kogure and co-driver Topi Luhtinen could restart on Saturday, experiencing some small technical issues in the morning loop that could be fixed in mid-day service. Both drivers escaped spins in the first stage of the afternoon as they continued to build their confidence and pace, before Yamamoto went off less than two kilometers from the end of the day’s final test. He and co-driver Marko Salminen restarted on Sunday and reached the finish in 11th place in WRC2, one position ahead of Kogure and Luhtinen.

ENDLESS is the partner of this program in the brake pads supply as same as WRT, and supporting these young driver’s challenge.

Kogure and Yamamoto will be in WRC2 action again, this time on gravel, at the Rally and supporting these young driver’s challenge.

Please read the details on the team’s official web site: