Toyota boss eager to retain Lappi for 2023 WRC season
The Japanese producer shuffled its driver roster this season after eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier elected to reduce his WRC commitments to a partial marketing campaign to spend extra time with household and discover alternatives in sportscar racing.
The choice resulted in Toyota signing Lappi to share the third GR Yaris with Ogier for the 2022 marketing campaign. It was a transfer that introduced Lappi again to the WRC’s high flight after the previous Citroen manufacturing facility driver dropped out of the championship following a season with M-Sport Ford in 2020.
It additionally marked a return to Toyota for Lappi, who drove for the crew in 2017 and 2018, scoring his solely win up to now in Finland throughout a partial marketing campaign in 2017.
This season Lappi has impressed, scoring three podium finishes from his six occasions up to now to spice up Toyota’s bid for a second consecutive producers’ title.
Toyota is but to formally talk its plans for subsequent season because it awaits a dialogue with Ogier relating to his future WRC commitments.
Nevertheless, Latvala has indicated that he wish to see Lappi proceed with the crew subsequent 12 months.
“He drove an ideal rally [in Belgium] and it’s precisely what we needed from him,” Latvala instructed Motorsport.com. “That is the third podium of the season and he has been doing solely half of the occasions, so we’re actually happy with the efficiency.
Esapekka Lappi, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Takamoto Katsuta, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Picture by: Toyota Racing
“I personally wish to hold him within the crew subsequent 12 months. We have to focus on with the crew and Ogier as he hasn’t determined about his plans subsequent 12 months.”
Waiting for subsequent 12 months, Lappi is open to the prospect of constant his part-time WRC duties with Toyota.
“Effectively, there are two sides. For certain as a driver, you wish to get an opportunity to combat for the massive prize,” stated Lappi.
“Then, alternatively, crucial factor of your life is your loved ones after which the partial season is an excellent steadiness. With skilled life in rallying after which household life.
“I’m prepared for each to be truthful. I acknowledge that I’ve no likelihood to beat Kalle in the mean time or something like this however to maintain that in thoughts, this partial programme is definitely fairly good.”
Motorsport.com understands Toyota is predicted to retain champion elect Kalle Rovanpera and Elfyn Evans for subsequent season, alongside the ever-improving Takamoto Katsuta, who’s the one driver to complete each rally within the factors this season.
Requested if there was a chance that Toyota may area 5 automobiles to probably accommodate Lappi and Ogier for a full-time marketing campaign, alongside the event entry for Katsuta subsequent 12 months, Latvala replied: “I do not suppose 5 automobiles however ideally we wish to have the 4 automobiles like this 12 months.”
“Takamoto has been doing actually constant work and the performances have raised up from final 12 months, however I feel subsequent 12 months it will nonetheless be good to have 4 automobiles. In the future I wish to see Taka in our important crew however I feel for subsequent 12 months it’s going to nonetheless be to have 4 automobiles.”