Toyota Gazoo Racing Announces Two WRC2 Drivers

November 2, 2023Joe Moore

Earlier this week the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT announced two drivers that will drive in WRC2 as part of the Next Generation program. 

Who Are They?

The two drivers that will drive for the Toyota Gazoo Racing Next Generation team in WRC2 next season are Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure. Both Yamamoto and Kogure drove in the WRC4 class this past season at select events. Following in Takamoto Katsuta’s footsteps both Japanese drivers will drive select European events for the team. It hasn’t been confirmed what car they will drive. However, it’s a safe bet that they will drive the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2. 

A Bit About The Drivers 

Yuki Yamamoto 

Born in Japan, Yamamoto is a 26-year-old driver. They have competed in a Rally4 car for the last two seasons. Yamamoto has competed at select rounds of the Finnish Rally Championship and the World Rally Championship among others. Finishing 7th in the ERT4 class in the FRC last season, and 3rd in the ERT4 Junior championship. Yamamoto has shown steady development as a part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing NG Team. Yamamoto made his rally debut in 2018 at the Rally in Akitakata in Japan. From 2018 to 2021 Yamamoto competed in Japan. Before joining the Toyota Gazoo Racing NG team. 

Hikaru Kogure

Born in Japan, Kogure is a 22-year-old rally driver. Making his rally debut in 2020 at the Shikoku no Teppen Rally in Japan. Kogure spent his first two years competing in Japan before joining the Toyota Gazoo Racing NG team. Much like Yamamoto, Kogure competed in select rounds of the FRC and WRC last season. Finishing 9th in the ERT4 class and 5th in ERT4 Junior. 

Why Straight To Rally2?

Yamamoto and Kogure will jump from 2WD Rally4 cars to 4WD Rally2 cars, but why? Normally drivers would drive in a Rally3 car before Rally2. However for Toyota this likely makes more sense. As it’s worked for them before, well sort of. As Takamoto Katsuta started driving in a 2WD Toyota GT86 some years ago. Before joining Tommi Makinen Racing, which was a part of Toyota. There is a difference between the GT86 Katsuta drove and the Rally4 cars Yamamoto and Kogure drove. The premise is the same, however. Plus ultimately this move just skips a stepping stone for the drivers and allows them to learn and develop in the Rally2 cars. As opposed to driving a Rally3 car and then a Rally2 car.