TOKYO, Oct 7, 2021 – (JCN Newswire via SEAPRWire.com) – The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will enter a new era of the FIA World Rally Championship relying on a strong driver line-up of proven winners across its three full-season manufacturer entries in 2022.
Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera will contest every event in the new hybrid Rally1 car after signing new contracts with the team, while multiple world champion Sebastien Ogier will also continue to compete for Toyota in selected rounds even as he steps back from full-time rallying. To complete the high-calibre line-up, Esapekka Lappi makes a welcome return to the team to share a car with Ogier during the season.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing now heads into a crucial phase of development and competition with the new-for-2022 technical regulations knowing it can count on four drivers who have all previously won rallies for the team and helped it towards championship success.
Evans joined the team at the beginning of 2020 and soon proved himself to be a championship contender, claiming wins in Sweden and Turkey and ultimately finishing runner-up to Ogier in a contest that went right down to the final round. After also winning in Portugal earlier this season and then at Rally Finland last weekend, the 32-year-old Welshman and his co-driver Scott Martin remain in contention for this year’s title with two rounds remaining.
Rovanpera has adapted impressively since stepping up to rallying’s highest level with the team last season. The 21-year-old from Finland, co-driven by Jonne Halttunen, recently became the youngest ever winner in the history of the WRC when he claimed a dominant victory at Rally Estonia, and followed that up with an impressive triumph on the Acropolis Rally in Greece, cementing his reputation as the sport’s most exciting young prospect.
Ogier claimed his seventh world championship title in 2020 in his first season driving the Toyota Yaris WRC. Having decided to extend his full-time WRC career for one more year into 2021, the Frenchman, 37, currently leads the standings by 24 points with two rounds remaining after taking victories in Monte Carlo, Croatia, Sardinia and Kenya so far. As he looks to make time for other activities outside of rallying, the exact events that Ogier will contest next season will be determined at a later date.
Julien Ingrassia, who has been alongside Ogier as his co-driver for all of his victories and championships, will bring the curtain down on his hugely-successful career at the end of 2021. Taking his place will be Benjamin Veillas, who has already worked closely with Ogier for several years in tests and as part of his gravel crew on events.
Lappi was part of the team’s line-up in its inaugural season in 2017, and claimed a memorable maiden victory on home soil at Rally Finland in just his fourth start at the highest level. In 2018 his three podium finishes helped Toyota to win the manufacturers’ championship before he moved on to other challenges. Together with co-driver Janne Ferm, the 30-year-old returned behind the wheel of a Toyota Yaris WRC last week with a privateer entry on Rally Finland, finishing a strong fourth overall, and now rejoins the team on a permanent basis for the WRC’s new era.
For more information, visit https://toyotagazooracing.com/wrc/release/2021/1007-01/.
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