Toyota announced on Monday that Esapekka Lapi’s season is over, as Sebastien Ogier will follow the next three World Cup rallies with Toyota. Team manager Jari-Matti Latvala praises Lapland’s performance.
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The Toyota World Rally Team announced on Monday that Sebastien Ogier drives the team’s third car in the last three World Cup rallies of the season. Hence Esapekka Lapin the season is over.
Lapland drove in a total of seven World Cup rallies during the season. The amount corresponds to what Toyota estimated before the start of the season.
– Actually, I thought that Ogier would drive fewer rallies. He has probably been able to dictate the rallies he wants to drive and six is a good number, Urheilu’s rally expert Miikka Anttila evaluate.
Lapland was on the podium in Sweden, Finland and Belgium. Team manager Jari-Matti Latvala consider Lapland very successful. He has been particularly satisfied with Lapland’s pace, which has been top class throughout the season.
In Croatia, Lappi stopped after hitting a rock in the opening special stage. Latvala considers this to be the single biggest mistake of Lapland’s season.
– Sardinia’s exit took place in a struggle for victory, which I think belongs to the rally. In Estonia, the speed was not quite near the top, but there we hoped for a solid performance from him after the difficult spring competitions, Latvala describes.
In Miikka Anttila’s opinion, Lappi did exactly the kind of result you could hope for from a gig driver.
– Drivers who ride all season also test more, and it is the amount of driving that determines how smoothly and reliably you can perform. Even considering that, Lapland has survived brilliantly, Anttila reflects.
Latvala about drivers for the 2023 season: “My choice would be Esapekka”
According to Latvala, Lapland has been a valuable piece for Toyota in terms of results and team spirit. Toyota is currently locked in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships.
Toyota has not yet revealed the driver line-up for next season. Only Kalle Rovanperä and With Elfyn Evans have valid contracts with Toyota for the coming season.
– Esapekka has done exactly the work that has been requested. My personal choice would be to take Esapekka to drive for next season. I would continue sharing the third car between Ogier and Lapland in the same way, Latvala tells Urheilu.
Ogier is interested in continuing – Katsuta is hoping for funding
According to Latvala, Ogier has expressed his interest in driving some races in the coming season, such as the season-opening race in Monte Carlo.
– We have to negotiate with him about this. Ogier has also driven track races this season, but not a whole series. Veri is definitely drawn to the rally, even though he doesn’t want to drive for the whole season, Latvala explains.
Latvala hopes that the team could hire a Japanese driver in the coming season Takamoto Katsuta in the fourth car in his own team, but this has not yet been confirmed by the car brand’s management in Japan.
– That is the intention, but we need confirmation from Toyota on the budget side. That’s what we’re trying to do, Latvala says.
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