Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT has announced its all-new line-up for the 2020 World Rally Championship which includes Frenchman Sébastien Ogier, Briton Elfyn Evans and the young and promising Finn, Kalle Rovamperä. This is Toyota’s sporting director, Tommi Makkinen’s robust response after losing current champion Ott Tänak to Hyundai.
The news settles existing rumours about the 2020 signings of the Japanese team. In any case, all of those rumours did point to Ogier. Left without a seat after his early departure from Citroën, which in turn caused the disappearance of that team, Ogier would seek his seventh WRC title with the Yaris.
At 36 years of age, this is a unique opportunity for Seb to attempt a fight for his seventh crown. Otherwise, he would have probably had to say goodbye to the sport through the back door.
Side by side with the second most successful driver in the speciality will be Welshman Evans. Both drivers meet again after having been teammates in M-Sport during 2017 and 2018.
Evans, who won the 2017 edition of Rally Britain, has finally abandoned the team where he has developed his entire WRC career. His speed and maturity at 30 years of age will add to Ogier’s experience to form an explosive combo.
Elfyn runs the risk of being relegated to the role of a luxury squire but has more than enough talent to shine on his own. Now fully recovered from the back injury he suffered in the Estonian Rally, he could be one of the surprises of next year.
“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” – said his new boss, Mäkinen.
Kalle Rovamperä arrives in Toyota from the Skoda Motorsport team, this year’s winners of the WRC2. At only 19 years of age, he will debut in the Queen Category surrounded by great expectations and with the promise of a bright future.
During his first year, he is expected to acquire enough experience to soon become one of the big names of the competition. If he also manages to accrue a handful of valuable points for the constructor’s title while at the same time, preventing rivals from doing so, he would have largely fulfilled his role.
“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” – said Mäkinen.
The vast experience and curriculum of Ogier, together with the enthusiasm of Evans and the explosiveness of Kalle, seem the perfect combination of know-how and youth. At least, that’s what the head of Toyota and architect of this line-up believes.
Mäkinen aspires to snatch the constructors’ title from Hyundai, a very powerful team now that they have Tänak. The squad from Alzenau has not only “stolen” their Estonian golden boy but will also count with Belgian Thierry Neuville for another season. Joining them at some of the races will also be the most successful driver of all times Sebastien Loeb, and the Spaniard Dani Sordo.
Images of Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT: Toyota.