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Latvala provides update on 2023 Toyota lineup

Recently, Toyota Gazoo  World Rally Team's principal Jari-Matti Latvala  revealed the intention to retain the exact same driver lineup f...

Recently, Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team's principal Jari-Matti Latvala revealed the intention to retain the exact same driver lineup for the 2023 World Rally Championship season. Takamoto Katsuta, Sebastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi.

That would mean retaining world championship leader Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi and outgoing world champion Sébastien Ogier with Takamoto Katsuta driving another car for Toyota Next Generation.

Rovanperä, Evans and Katsuta are contesting full seasons in 2022, while Lappi and Ogier have shared the third works GR Yaris Rally1 as Ogier steps back his rallying commitments.

That’s the seat that generates the most interest for 2023, with Rovanperä and Evans extremely unlikely to be ousted or tempted by a move elsewhere and Ogier’s future desire to continue appearing in the WRC unclear.

The eight-time champion hasn’t competed since Safari Rally Kenya in June, although is expected to do Rally Japan at the very least this November.

Lappi meanwhile has found some real form after a clear run of three consecutive rallies, taking back-to-back podiums for the first time in his WRC career with third on both Rally Finland and Ypres Rally Belgium.


When asked, off the back of that Ypres podium, if Lappi was a really strong bet for a Toyota drive again next season, Latvala told DirtFish: “Yes, I am looking that. I personally really want to keep him in the team but we need to look at the situation, we need to discuss with him.

“There is also Sébastien Ogier who has said he wants to drive in Monte Carlo, if he wants to drive more so we need to discuss with everybody.”

Pressed if that meant Toyota was willing to do anything to accommodate Ogier, even with a superstar like Rovanperä in the team, Latvala said: “You know that Ogier is an eight-time world champion and he’s still a very, very fast driver.
 

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“There are some events where he is really, really strong and I believe there are some events where Esapekka is very strong. As we’ve seen in Finland, Estonia, he was driving really well here, Sardinia, things like that, so I think that could be a nice combination again next year to have two drivers and a third car and then Taka on the fourth.

“So for me, it would be the ideal situation to continue with the same package for next year.”

Katsuta is a works Toyota driver in all but name, with his GR Yaris Rally1 in exactly the same specification as the other three cars and serviced within the same structure.

The only difference is the championship points he scores goes towards a different concern.

But every single rally driver wants to be a bona fide factory driver, so will that ever happen for Katsuta?


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Latvala believes so but thinks next year would be too soon.

“If you look overall, a really nice line with the results, he has been consistent all the time now with the results so of course he could be one day nice to see also in the main team,” Latvala said.

“But at the moment I think for next year it would still be best to have four cars.”

https://dirtfish.com/rally/wrc/latvala-provides-update-on-2023-toyota-lineup/

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