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Toyota confirms all-Finnish line-up for WRC return

Jari-Matti Latvala will head up Toyota's return to the World Rally Championship in 2017, alongside Juho Hanninen and Esapekka Lappi.
Toyota Gazoo Racing has confirmed Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hanninen and Esapekka Lappi will form an all-Finish driver line-up for its much anticipated World Rally Championship comeback in 2017.

The Japanese manufacturer returns to the international rally stage for the first time since 1999 next year with the Yaris WRC, its entry coinciding with a shift in technical regulations for the series in its efforts to make the cars more aggressive looking and more of a challenge to drive.

As anticipated, the experienced Latvala will lead Toyota's efforts in 2017, the 31 year-old looking to secure an elusive world title having finished inside the top four overall for eight of the last nine seasons. Joining from Volkswagen, the 16-time WRC event winner is confident Toyota can be quick from the off.

"I started my rally career in a Toyota Corolla GT back in 2001 and my first competitive outing in a World Rally Car was behind the wheel of a Corolla WRC in 2003. In many ways it feels like I'm coming home.
"I'm really happy to join the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team from the very start and lead this new adventure with them. I feel lucky to be part of this story and I hope we will take a lot of victories in it."

With Hanninen having been confirmed by Toyota last month, WRC2 champion Lappi secures a promotion to the premier class in the third Yaris entry. The 25 year-old will compete in selected events with his programme yet to be confirmed.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my co-driver Janne Ferm. It's a dream come true. We have both worked so hard over the years to get to this point and finally, it's here. We're excited and motivated about joining the team and we're extremely grateful for this opportunity. I can't wait to start our testing programme with the Yaris WRC."

Headed up by former rallying legend Tommi Makinen in the role of team principal, Toyota's return brings one of the series' most successful manufacturers back into the WRC fray having won four drivers' titles in 1990, 1992 (Carlos Sainz), 1993 (Juha Kankkunen) and 1994 (Didier Auriol).

Toyota's arrival comes in the wake of Volkswagen's sudden exit from the sport, the German firm having dominated for the last four seasons. Its four-time champion Sebastien Ogier will compete with M-Sport Ford next season.



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