Mon 20 Nov 2023

All-star Toyota Gazoo Racing line-up breaks cover for 2024

Just one day after securing a 1-2-3 finish at FORUM8 Rally Japan, Toyota Gazoo Racing has unveiled the drivers who will lead the team into the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season.

The GR Yaris squad proved to be a formidable force in 2023, securing the drivers' championship with Kalle Rovanperä and clinching its third successive manufacturers' crown. Unsurprisingly, Toyota has opted to maintain much of this winning formula.

Having finished as the runner-up in the championship on three occasions, Welsh driver Elfyn Evans aims to improve his standing in the 2024 season with a full campaign. Joining him at every fixture will be Takamoto Katsuta, who impressed by winning nine of the 21 special stages during his home round last week.

Kalle Rovanperä, champion for two years running, has signed a multi-year contract with the team. The 23-year-old Finn will contest a selected schedule of rallies in 2024, a move he hopes will allow him some time away from the intense demands of competing for world titles and to enjoy driving across different disciplines.

Eight-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier retains his place within the team, continuing the part-time agreement which saw the Frenchman secure three victories this year.

Team principal Jari-Matti Latvala explained Toyota’s thinking behind the line-up, saying: “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.”

What the drivers said:

Elfyn Evans: “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.”

Takamoto Katsuta: “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.”

Kalle Rovanperä: “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.”

Sébastien Ogier: “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.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM