Toyota confirms 2022 WRC line-up with Lappi sharing Ogier car

Toyota has confirmed its 2022 World Rally Championship driver line-up which will see Esapekka Lappi rejoin the squad to share a third car with Sebastien Ogier.

Toyota confirms 2022 WRC line-up with Lappi sharing Ogier car

The Japanese marque has today confirmed that as anticipated Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera have been retained to contest a full season next year in the all-new Toyota GR Yaris as the WRC ushers in new hybrid regulations.

Joining the line-up is Lappi following the Finn’s successful run to fourth in an evaluation outing at last weekend’s Rally Finland.

Lappi was tipped last month to secure the vacant seat in the third car following seven-time champion Ogier’s decision to scale back his 2022 commitments to only a partial campaign, having already elected to extend his full-time career into 2021 after COVID-19 cut the 2020 season short.

The move sees Lappi rejoin the Toyota team he drove for in 2017 and 2018, where he scored his only WRC win to date at Rally Finland in 2017.

“I am very happy to have such a strong line-up of drivers heading into 2022 and an exciting new era for the WRC,” said Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala.

“It’s very nice to have Elfyn and Kalle continuing with us as drivers who can fight for the championship.

“Elfyn is a really consistent driver, always helping to get the points for the team towards the championship, but as he proved with his victory on Rally Finland, he’s also absolutely one of the fastest drivers and definitely one of the contenders to win the title.

“We have seen really great performances from Kalle this year. He is developing all the time and as he gains more and more experience, he can also become a strong contender for championships.

Latvala added: “Seb is a great champion and he will be really valuable for us again next season, even though he will no longer be targeting the drivers’ title for himself.

“Finally, I’m delighted to bring Esapekka back into the team. He proved with us before that he can win, and since then I think he has been growing a lot.

“His motivation is very high, and he showed his speed on his return last weekend.

“I believe he is the perfect driver to share the seat with Seb, to help us in the championship but also be there to fight for victories himself.”

After a season on the WRC sidelines due to losing his seat at M-Sport at the end of 2020, former Citroen factory driver Lappi is excited to be returning to rallying’s top flight with Toyota.

“It feels like I’m coming home. I have some great memories from the past and it was really nice to work with people from the team again at Rally Finland. As soon as I got back into the Yaris WRC, it felt again like this was my car,” said Lappi.

“Of course, for next year we will have a new car and although I have not driven it yet, it seems like it will be very different with the new regulations. But it will be interesting to be a part of it and I’m very excited about the future.”

While the number of rallies Ogier will contest remains unknown as he explores a possible programme in the World Endurance Championship, the Frenchman will end his relationship with long-time co-driver Julien Ingrassia, who guided him to all his world titles and is retiring after 2021.

Benjamin Veillas, who Ogier has worked with on tests, will take up the seat.

“I’m looking forward to having more time with my family after this year, but at the same time I’m very happy to remain with Toyota Gazoo Racing and having the chance to compete in some rallies next year,” said Ogier.

“I’m very thankful to the team for giving me this opportunity to keep doing on a partial basis what I love to do.

“The schedule of events is not clear yet, but I will do my best to help the team in the manufacturers’ championship and to develop the car.

“I’m excited to see what this new generation of cars bring to the sport and I know the team is putting a lot of effort into it.”

Rovanpera is also keen to progress his career with Toyota after the 21-year-old Finn scored breakthrough rally wins at Estonia and the Acropolis this year.

“My first two years with the team have been really good. I have been learning a lot, and the team has given me the chance to learn and to drive in my own way without big pressure. We have a really major change coming for next year with a totally new car, and it’s going to be a big challenge for the whole team,” said Rovanpera.

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After winning last weekend’s Rally Finland, Evans added: “I have very much enjoyed my time here so far over the past two years, and to win for the team on its home rally in Finland last weekend was an extra-special feeling for me.

“Now we are getting ready to enter a new phase with new regulations, and I’m excited to work with everyone in the team to do the best job we can in developing the Rally1 car and trying to achieve the best results possible next season.”

Toyota is yet to confirm the future of its development driver Takamoto Katsuta but it is expected the Japanese driver will pilot the fourth car.

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