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Toyota WRC boss reveals growing interest in 2023 seats

Toyota World Rally Championship boss Jari-Matti Latvala says several drivers have been in contact regarding 2023 drives, but is hopeful the team’s line-up will be revealed next month.

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The Japanese marque it yet to announce its driver line-up for next year, although it has been widely expected that Toyota will field an unchanged roster next year.

Toyota boss Latvala has previously stated he would like to retain its 2022 driver line-up, comprising newly crowned world champion Kalle Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans, with Sebastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi continuing to share the third factory car, and Takamoto Katsuta driving the fourth GR Yaris.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Rally Spain, Latvala confirmed everything is still open for next year and that “some contractual issues” have held up the team from confirming its plans. It is hoped that its 2023 squad will be confirmed at the Rally Japan season finale on 10-13 November.

“It [the driver announcement] needs to be end of the year but unfortunately there are some contractual things that are still open, so I don’t have updates at this point,” said Latvala.

“I hope that when we are in Japan that things would be clearer, to announce the drivers over there, but at this point everything is still open.”

The Finn also revealed that the team has received contact from other drivers enquiring about 2023 drives, when asked if Ogier’s decision on the amount of rallies he wishes to contest next year remains a hurdle to overcome.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing, Sebastien Ogier, Benjamin Veillas, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing, Sebastien Ogier, Benjamin Veillas, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Ogier will contest six rallies this year in his partial programme which the Frenchman is keen to continue in 2023.

“Sebastien has an interest to drive rallies next year and Esapekka would like to do rallies,” Latvala added.

“We hope to have everything worked out and we are working on that and also there have been some other drivers contacting us.

“But I have said if we win all the titles with the current driver line-up then I would say is there a point to change anything?

“In my opinion no but it is not depending on me so we will have to discuss with the drivers and I hope we can finalise it by Rally Japan.”

While Latvala sees no reason to alter its driver-line up, which appears on course to deliver a drivers’ and manufacturers’ double, the final decision on the team’s driver line-up will be made by Toyota in Japan.

“First of all we do the proposal from TGR [Toyota Gazoo Racing] World Rally Team to Japan TMC [Toyota Motor Corporation] and we have a good influence on this on which drivers we would like to have, but of course the final confirmation needs to come from TMC.”

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When asked for his thoughts if Toyota headquarters revealed an interest in signing Ott Tanak, whose future for 2023 is yet to be confirmed, he replied: “We will have to discuss carefully what are the benefits.

“I said earlier that Ott is a fast driver and he is one of the fastest. I think him and Kalle are the fastest in the championship but is it good for the team and for the championship? These are the things you have to discuss.

“I think the good thing at Toyota is we have good communication and discussions and I think we can discus and be happy with a decision.”

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