The reigning WRC constructors’ champions have announced new contracts with Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans, Sebastien Ogier and Takamoto Katsuta following Toyota’s dominant 1-2-3 at last weekend’s season finale in Japan. Rovanpera, Evans and Ogier each scored three wins this year to help Toyota to a sixth world title.
Evans, runner-up to Rovanpera in his year’s title race, will contest a full season alongside Katsuta, while eight-time world champion Ogier is set for a third partial campaign after retiring from full-time competition at the end of 2021.
Newly crowned two-time world champion Rovanpera has signed a new multi-year deal but will only contest a part-time programme in 2024.
Rovanpera wishes to “recharge his batteries” from the demands of the WRC next year before returning for a full-time programme in 2025.
The 23-year-old made the step up to WRC’s top flight in 2020 with Toyota and has since scored 11 wins on his way to back-to-back world titles in 2022-2023. This year he became only the sixth driver in WRC history to defend the world title.
“I am really excited to have signed a multi-year contract with TGR-WRT and to continue working with the team,” said Rovanpera, whose exact 2024 schedule is yet to be defined.
“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.”
Photo by: Toyota Racing
Podium: Winners Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, second place Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, third place Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
After securing a third consecutive constructors’ title Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala had no reason to alter his driver line-up for next year.
“We are very happy to be keeping our winning driver line-up together for the future,” said Latvala. “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.”
Following a much stronger campaign after a winless 2022, Evans has his sights set on challenging for the 2024 title.
Photo by: Toyota Racing
Sébastien Ogier, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
“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,” said Evans.
Ogier had been expected to remain part-time having enjoyed the work life balance his part-time role offers.
“I really like the relationship that I have with the whole team and for me there was never any doubt that I wanted to stay in TGR overalls,” said Ogier. “I also really enjoy the balance that this kind of partial programme gives me, and next season should be pretty similar in that respect.”
Receiving a promotion to the second GR Yaris for 2024, Katsuta is keen to build on the podium he scored in Finland this 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,” said Katsuta.
“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.”2023-11-20T09:52:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd