With Toyota returning to the World Rally Championship in 2017, GAZOO Racing will be ramping up their driver training program with the help of Tommi Makkinen.
Launched last year, the program aims to support the future works drivers for the rally team and develop them into world-class rally drivers. Toyota GAZOO Racing has selected Takamoto Katsuta and Hiroki Arai for rally driving training under Makkinen.
For 2016, the two will undergo winter training in Finland to allow Katsuta and Arai to further refine their skills by focusing on driving in icy and snowy conditions. Afterwards, their performance during the winter training period will move them up to more advanced training in the summer. Similar to the previous round in 2015, the challenge program will also offer opportunities to participate in various rallies around Europe.
This year, the two drivers entered six rallies, consistently finishing in the top half of their class. Katsuta performed well in Rally Japan this year, finishing second in his class in round 5 and winning round 9. Arai on the other hand had a string of third place finishes in his class, twice in Finland and once in Latvia.
Katsuta and Arai will enter all rounds of the Finnish National Rally Championship. With Toyota's partnership with Subaru, the two will be rallying with new Subaru Impreza WRX STI R4 spec cars.
January 28-30 Arctic Lapland (Finnish National Rally Championship round 1)
February 26-27 SM Vaakuna (Finnish National Rally Championship round 2)
March 11-12 Tahko SM-Ralli (Finnish National Rally Championship round 3)
June 10 Sastamala-Huittinen (Finnish National Rally Championship round 4)
August 19-20 SM-Ralli Turku (Finnish National Rally Championship round 5)
September 23-24 Pirelli Ralli (Finnish National Rally Championship round 6)