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
Load comments
The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022 Plus

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022

Eight-time World Rally Championship king Sebastien Ogier has abdicated (well, gone part-time) in 2022, meaning for just the second time in the past decade we will have a different champion this year. Autosport picks out the drivers gunning to take his place and take over the mantle as the WRC's new ruler

WRC
Jan 20, 2022
The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born Plus

The 'Cumbrian Maranello' where Ford's WRC giants are born

M-Sport is changing the game as a World Rally Championship powerhouse, inspired by Ferrari's legendary Formula 1 base. Autosport was afforded a behind-the-scenes look at its new headquarters, the result of a vision that has taken three decades to be realised, where its new Rally1 Puma took shape

WRC
Jan 19, 2022
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Plus

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Plus

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Plus

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against team-mate Elfyn Evans

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Plus

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, Autosport picks out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021