Lappi in “strongest position” as Toyota 2022 WRC driver decision looms

Toyota World Rally Championship boss Jari-Matti Latvala expects to make a decision regarding the 2022 driver line-up for the squad's third entry by the end of October.

Lappi in “strongest position” as Toyota 2022 WRC driver decision looms

The Japanese marque is yet to officially confirm any drivers for 2022 although it is widely expected Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera will be retained, while Takamoto Katsuta appears likely to remain in the squad’s fourth entry.

However, the team's third Yaris has triggered plenty of speculation with seven-time world champion Sebastien Ogier set for only a partial campaign next season, freeing up a part-time seat at the factory Toyota squad.

Former Toyota, Citroen and M-Sport driver Esapekka Lappi has emerged as the favourite to land the seat alongside Ogier, who may contest as many as five rallies next year, according to Latvala.

Lappi has a chance to impress Toyota courtesy of a one-off drive at next month’s Rally Finland in a privateer Yaris run by the Japanese the marque next month.

Latvala is hopeful a decision will be reached regarding the team's driver line-up shortly after the event.

“We have to do it I would say, we need to do it, probably in October so in that month we have to do the decision," said Latvala when asked by Autosport about the timeframe of the decision for the third car.

When asked about Ogier’s plans for 2022 Latvala added: “Nothing has been decided.

"He wants to drive in Monte Carlo. this is clear, he has said he is not so eager to be in Sweden.

“He has mentioned that four to five rallies is something he is thinking [about], but these are the discussions we have had so far, but nothing has been decided yet.”

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Movisport Volkswagen Polo GTi

Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Movisport Volkswagen Polo GTi

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Latvala admits Lappi is in the strongest position for the drive but confirmed the Finn is not the only candidate.

“Of course we have been evaluating other drivers and also we still have a chance to look at Esapekka,” said Latvala.

“Esapekka is in the strongest position for us to have in the team next year, but there is still many drivers not having seat that you could have for next year so they’re still drivers on the market.

“I really hope Esapekka will do a good event and of course that would help our decision.”

Read Also:

Switching to the team’s other out of contract drivers in Evans and Rovanpera, the pair have both recently tested Toyota’s 2022 Yaris which further cements their expected places in the line-up for next year.

Latvala remained tight-lipped on the duo’s contract renewals.

“Unfortunately I can’t confirm that at this point but of course it is looking good, very good,” he said.

shares
comments

Related video

Sordo teases 2022 plans with WRC future yet to be resolved
Previous article

Sordo teases 2022 plans with WRC future yet to be resolved

Next article

Gravel Notes Podcast: Petter Solberg’s Acropolis Rally review

Gravel Notes Podcast: Petter Solberg’s Acropolis Rally review
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Plus

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Plus

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Plus

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Plus

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Plus

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Plus

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Plus

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater

WRC
Jan 1, 2023
Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Plus

Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022