Mon 17 Jun 2024

Toyota continues hunt for next-gen WRC talent

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is continuing its mission to discover future rallying talent by launching another selection process for its TGR WRC Challenge Program this year.

Established in 2015 ahead of Toyota’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship, the TGR WRC Challenge Program aims to identify and nurture talented young Japanese drivers who have the potential to become top-level WRC competitors.

One of the first drivers selected for the Program, Takamoto Katsuta, is now a five-time WRC podium finisher and a regular feature on Toyota’s official manufacturer team line-up. Second-generation talents Hikaru Kogure and Yuki Yamamoto have shown promising speed so far on their maiden season in WRC2, while latest recruits Shotaro Goto and Takumi Matsushita made their respective debuts at the Pohjanmaa Ralli in Finland last weekend.

Eager to provide opportunities for more youngsters, Toyota is holding another selection process in 2024 to add a fourth generation of drivers to the Program.

Applications open on 1 July for drivers aged between 14 and 26. The first 100 applicants will be invited to participate in qualification tests at Fuji Speedway in October, with around five of those selected for a final training camp in Finland in December.

Successful candidates will then begin a comprehensive training program in January 2025, based in Jyväskylä, Finland, home to Toyota’s WRC headquarters. There, they will receive coaching on various skills, including pace notes, physical and mental training, and will compete in selected rallies using Rally4 machinery.

For the first time, the Program will also include a selection process for co-drivers aged 18 to 35. Candidates will undergo remote interviews, with a final selection taking place at the end of October.

Mikko Hirvonen, a 22-time WRC rally winner and the chief instructor for the TGR WRC Challenge Program, said: “After a very good experience with the approach that we took for the selection last year, we are ready to do it again later this year, and we’re really excited to see how much talent we can discover.

“Just like last year, we want to open up this opportunity to everybody and to maybe try and find that person who would otherwise not have the possibility to enter motorsport at a high level. Our third generation of drivers had very limited competition experience when they joined us, but we really found some great natural talent for driving and think this is an incredible way to give people a chance to chase their dreams.

“This is the way that Toyota wants to do it: to not look necessarily for an experienced background in motorsport, but rather to look at peopleʼs talent, their passion and how they can handle a car.”

Drivers wishing to join the Program can do so here from 1 July.

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