As the 2016 WRC season nears its end, Toyota Gazoo Racing is further preparing for their comeback in rallying with the announcement of their first driver/co-driver pair. Finnish driver Juho Hanninen and his co-driver Kaj Lindstrom will be piloting the Yaris WRC during 2017 FIA World Rally Championship. The duo have signed a one year contract to rally for Toyota with an option to extend beyond 2017.
"This really feels like a dream come true! Joining a works team with such potential for a full season is a real opportunity for me. We have been working together since the car's first outing, so that makes it all the more exciting and motivating. The Yaris WRC is incredible. I can't wait to get started at the Rallye Monte-Carlo!" said Hanninen.
Prior to joining Toyota in top-level rallying, Hanninen has been involved with the sport since, first running in the production car class Group N. He was crowned champion in the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Champion and followed it up in 2011 when he clinched S-WRC championship. Kaj Lindstrom on the other hand was Tommi Makkinen's co-driver when the latter raced for Subaru during the 2002 season.
"I am delighted that Juho will be part of the team for the 2017 season. Juho has been involved in the development of the Yaris WRC since the start of the project. We are looking forward to working together with him as we target a podium finish at the earliest possible opportunity and continue to strive to make ever-better cars," said Koei Saga, chief officer and technical director of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Factory, and also TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Team Vice-Principal
Toyota's WRC program is headed by four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen. He was personally hired by Toyota Motor Co. president and CEO, Akio Toyoda and has been part of the team since its formation in 2014. Since then, the Yaris WRC has racked up thousands of test kilometers in preparation for the next WRC season.