WRC: Toyota confirms Sebastien Ogier will drive for them in 2020
After considerable speculation about Sebastien Ogier, Citroen Racing, and the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team, the news is finally in. Toyota has confirmed six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier as their new driver for the 2020 season. He joins Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera at the team, and will pilot a Toyota Yaris WRC car during the championship next year.
According to a press release issued by the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, the combination of these drivers, all with their respective co-drivers, "Together, they will make for a perfect blend of speed, experience and youth behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC."
Elfyn Evans, Sébastien Ogier, Tommi Mäkinen, and Kalle Rovanperä
Naturally, Ogier is the most experienced of the lot. With his co-driver Julien Ingrassia, Ogier has won the World Rally Championship title six times, between 2013 and 2018. Four of those titles were won in a factory Volkswagen Polo WRC, and two were won in a privateer MSport Ford Fiesta. Ogier came very close to winning a seventh WRC title in the Citroen C3 this year, ultimately losing to Toyota's Ott Tanak. Since then, Tanak has announced his departure from Toyota, and has signed on with the Hyundai World Rally Team. And Citroen has parted ways with the WRC.
Evans has also proved to be one to watch out for in the championship. While he has started 86 WRC events, he has taken one victory (Wales Rally GB in 2017), has had nine podiums, and has also had 49 stage wins. He will continue to be partnered by co-driver Scott Martin.
Kalle Rovanpera moves up to the WRC. At the age of 19, he is the youngest driver in the lineup, but someone who is regarded as a future world champion. Rovanpera, and co-driver Jonne Halttunen, enter the WRC as reigning WRC 2 Pro title winners.
Speaking of the new 2020 driver lineup, Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT said, "I'm really pleased with the driver line-up we have been able to put together for next season. I believe it provides us with a great balance in our team as we target more championship trophies next year and in the future. We know how strong Sébastien is and we're all looking forward to working with him and Julien. I think that being able to attract a driver with his record says a lot about what we have achieved in such a short space of time with this team. Elfyn is a driver I have been watching for some time. We've seen that he can have the speed to win on almost any surface, but he can also be very clever when needed and score good points. I've known Kalle since he was very young and it's always been clear that he has something special. He still has lots to learn, but I believe that he is ready for this step now. I want to say thank you to Ott and Martin, Jari-Matti and Miikka, and Kris and Seb for all they have done for our team. I wish them all the best for the future."
Ogier himself stated, "I'm definitely very excited to be joining this team. It's another new challenge for me and I'm looking forward to it. We already discussed it at the end of 2016, and although we didn't manage to make it happen at that time, I'm now overwhelmed to start working with such an iconic brand as Toyota as well as my childhood idol Tommi Mäkinen. The plan is to aim for some success together and to try to win back the world championship."
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