Fri 18 Nov 2022

Toyota Gazoo Racing reveal 2023 line up

Takamoto Katsuta has been promoted to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s otherwise unchanged main line-up for the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season, it was announced on Friday (18 November)

Katsuta was taken under the wing of Toyota’s WRC Challenge Program for young drivers in 2015 and made his top-flight debut in Germany four years later. He has campaigned a factory GR Yaris for Toyota Gazoo Racing Next Generation - the Japanese marque’s second team - this season. 

Having now notched up three podiums, as well as securing a top-five championship result, the 29-year-old is being promoted to Toyota’s main squad and will alternate drives with eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier in 2023. He will continue to have Irishman Aaron Johnston on his notes.

It remains to be confirmed which driver will contest each round - although Ogier is likely to take up the reins for the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January), an event he has won eight times. 

Katsuta and Johnston will participate outside of the team in the remaining rallies for which they are not entered for manufacturers’ points, driving an identical GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid.

Team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has been impressed with the consistency shown by Katsuta throughout 2022. He believes the Japanese driver is ready to step up as Toyota aims to defend its manufacturers’ crown. 

“It’s very nice to welcome Takamoto into our main line-up to share a car with Sébastien while also still gaining the experience of a full season," said Latvala, continuing: "We believe the time is right for him to make this step: In 2022 he was the WRC’s most consistent scorer so we are confident he can bring good points for the team.

"As a team we have enjoyed an extremely good season in 2022. To win all three titles for the third year in a row will be a big challenge but that is certainly our target next season and we need to keep working together to achieve it."

For Katsuta, it’s a dream come true. He hopes to bring home valuable points for the team whilst also looking to add more podiums to his tally.  

"I’m really excited to make this next step in my career. To have this kind of role with the team has been a big target for me and I want to thank Toyoa Gazoo Racing Racing for giving me such an amazing opportunity. Of course it will bring a bit more pressure than before, but I am very motivated to keep working hard to be ready for next season and to do the best job I can for the team.”

The stepping up of Katsuta means there is no place for Esapekka Lappi, who had shared the car with Ogier for the 2022 season. The Finn competed in seven events, securing three podiums.

Elfyn Evans and new world champion Kalle Rovanperä return to compete for full seasons for the Japanese manufacturer.

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