Mäkinen closing in on 2017 WRC driver decision for Toyota

Toyota GAZOO Racing WRC Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen has closed in on which World Rally drivers will be occupying the two seats for the 2017 WRC season.

Whilst a decision on which drivers will be occupying the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC after Rallye Deutschland, the former four-time World Rally Champion will be going to Japan to have further talks with the Japanese manufacturer.

Mäkinen has shortlisted DMACK’s Ott Tänak, WRC2 Championship Leader Elfyn Evans, Teemu Suninen and the factory WRC2 Škoda drivers of Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand as potential drivers for the Toyota WRC seats.

Mäkinen told AUTOSPORT.com “The plan is not decided yet, we will discuss it with Japan.

“The question for the drivers is how we see the world: are we looking to 2017 or are we looking to the future?

“This is the area we will discuss very carefully with Japan and make a decision together.”

Mäkinen will be using former WRC drivers Juho Hanninen and Mikko Hirvonen to test the Yaris in its testing programme.

Toyota’s plan for the 2017 WRC season is to view it as a development season, rather than expect to fight for wins. The Japanese manufacturer will field two cars at the start of the season, with the hope of adding a third car later on in the season.

Mäkinen added “The infrastructure is there to run a three-car team, but we know it’s pretty big work to build and run three cars from the start.”

“I say it’s easier to start with two and bring the third car after a couple of rallies.

“The 2017 season is the year first to learn and analyse the rallies. I would like to say we would be ready to fight and to win in 2018.

“The target for next year? Of course we’d like to see the podium very soon.”