The reigning world champion squad selected three younger Japanese rally abilities particularly; Hikaru Kogure (20), Nao Otake (21) and Yuki Yamamoto (24) to affix its driver growth programme final 12 months, that goals to advertise a younger Japanese driver to its WRC workforce sooner or later.
After an in depth two-year coaching programme led by 15-time WRC rally winner Mikko Hirvonen, which has seen the trio compete in nationwide and worldwide rallies in Rally4 automobiles, Toyota has chosen Kogure and Yamamoto to contest Rally2 programmes subsequent 12 months.
“For Yuki and Hikaru, the programme will get harder now they’re stepping as much as Rally2,” mentioned Hirvonen. “The competitors will probably be tougher and the tempo will probably be larger, however we’re excited to see what they will do once we push them even tougher.”
Toyota started this driver growth programme in 2015, with it largest success story being Takamoto Katsuta, who has since progressed to drive Toyota’s fourth WRC entry in 2020, and has pushed full seasons in a manufacturing unit automobile since 2021.
Right this moment’s announcement doesn’t provide any extra particulars in regards to the Rally2 programmes for Kogure and Yamamoto. Nevertheless, it will appear possible the pair will drive Toyota’s new GR Yaris Rally2 automobile, which is at the moment present process homologation and is predicted to make its debut subsequent 12 months.
“I felt that I had performed the very best that I can, so I knew that I’d not have any regrets,” mentioned Kogure.
“Originally, I struggled quite a bit as I had little or no expertise on gravel or snow, and I discovered the pacenote system to be fully completely different. However I did numerous recce coaching with my co-driver Topi and I felt numerous progress throughout the newest rallies in Poland, Latvia and Finland. Rally2 goes to be one other step however I’m actually trying ahead to it.”
Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool
Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
Yamamoto added: “It’s been nearly two years and now we have discovered numerous issues driving the Rally4 automobiles, and in the previous few rallies we confirmed some good pace.
“So I feel we progressed lots and I really feel I’m able to step as much as Rally2. After all, it’s a really aggressive class with numerous good drivers so it will likely be very fascinating to see how we are able to construct up the tempo and our expertise.
“It gained’t be straightforward to be at prime pace instantly, however I imagine we are able to have studying course of and hopefully we are able to combat for prime outcomes sooner or later.”
Otake may even have the possibility to proceed his growth within the Japanese Rally Championship subsequent 12 months with the help of Toyota. He’ll compete in a brand new JRC class which will probably be launched in 2024, focused at promising younger Japanese rally drivers.
“Naturally, it’s disappointing for me that I will be unable to proceed with this system in Europe subsequent 12 months, however I’m happy that I’ll nonetheless have the possibility to maintain competing in rallying,” mentioned Otake.
“I wish to say an enormous thanks to TGR and everyone who has supported me. I’ve by no means given up throughout my profession, and I’ll hold pushing in Japan subsequent 12 months.”
The method to recruit a brand new consumption of younger drivers to the TGR WRC Problem Programme can also be underway following a current qualification section held at Fuji Speedway in Japan. The ultimate choice will happen in Finland in December.