Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Announce 2024 Driver Lineup
Earlier today the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT announced their 2024 World Rally Championship lineup.
Elfyn Evans remains a full-time driver for the Japanese team. This comes after Evans had a strong 2023 season. Winning three events and pushing the championship battle to the Central European Rally. A battle that could’ve gone further if Evans hadn’t crashed into a barn on the third day of the event. Evans also claimed 4 additional podiums in 2023.
“I’m looking forward to heading into what will be my fifth consecutive year with the team. We’ve had some great successes together over the last four years and I’m excited to continue that story with Toyota Gazoo Racing. I gelled with the team immediately when I joined and it feels very much like home now. The support from everyone to get me feeling comfortable in the GR YARIS Rally1 has been great, and we’ve continued to make progress this year. I’m keen to build on that and be even better in 2024. We have a lot more to achieve together and I’m excited about the future. As always, the target will be to win, whether that’s in each rally or in the championship.” Said Evans.
This also isn’t a change. As Katsuta has been a full-time driver for Toyota since 2021. Katsuta still has yet to claim his first rally win. However, Katsuta had a strong showing this past weekend at his home event in Japan. As the 30-year-old put on the drive of a lifetime. Winning nearly half of the events stages, nobody could stop Katsuta. However, this didn’t lead to a win as a crash on SS2 forced Katsuta into EV mode for SS2 and SS3. Toyota is hoping this is a sign of things to come for the Japanese star.
“I’m really excited to start a new season with [the team] next year. I learned a lot this year: there were some rallies that were good for me and some that were not so good, but those have made me stronger and will hopefully help me in the future. Next year will be important to prove what I can do, and I will try to make it the best season of my career so far.” Said Katsuta.
Eight-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier will once again be a part-time driver for the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT. Ogier was arguably a top-three driver this past season. Winning three of the eight events he competed in. He likely would’ve also won Rally Italia Sardegna if his foot hadn’t slipped during a stage. Ogier will provide Toyota with a strong third car at the events he competes in. The number of events Ogier will compete in is still unknown. However, it sounds as if Ogier will compete in 10 events next season.
“I am of course really happy to still be with Toyota Gazoo Racing for next year. The 2023 season has been good for me and more importantly for the team, and managing to clinch all three titles again is great. I also really enjoy the balance that this kind of partial programme gives me, and next season should be pretty similar in that respect. As long as the success is there for me and the team, I think we should try to carry on in a similar way.” Said Ogier.
The biggest shock of the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT is Kalle Rovanperä moving to part-time. Rovanperä has good reason for this, however. As the two-time World Rally Champion wants a little break.
“I am really excited to have signed a multi-year contract and to continue working with the team. Next year I am only going to be driving some of the events and the biggest reason for this is that I have been driving rally cars for 15 years already, which is quite a long time, and while the last seasons have been amazing of course, they have also been really demanding mentally and physically. So, I felt that now would be a good moment to take a year for recharging the batteries, and then come back again full-time to fight for the championship once more with a full attack. I enjoy all kinds of motorsport and I’m looking forward to doing some drifting and maybe some other cool events as well as the rallies which we will be selecting next year.” Said Rovanperä.
Comment From The Team Principal
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Principal Jari-Matti Latvala said the following about the 2024 lineup. “We are very happy to be keeping our winning driver line-up together for the future. It’s great to know that we have such a strong squad of drivers who feel at home in our car and our team and want to continue working with us. Kalle’s programme will be a bit different in 2024 but the important thing for us is that he is a Toyota driver and he wants to stay with the team and keep enjoying his passion for rallying.
Even though he is young, he has been driving rally cars at a serious level for a long time and he feels a part-campaign would be best for him now so that we can look forward to more full seasons together in the future. It’s also great that Seb continues with us, and it means that together with Kalle, we will have two multiple world champions as strong assets in our defence of the manufacturers’ championship. Elfyn has shown us again this year that he can win rallies and compete for championships, and we know he will give his best efforts in every rally. Taka proved at Rally Finland this year that he can be up there in the fastest rallies and hopefully, we can see him as a contender for podiums in almost every rally next season.”