Who to hire?
After Volkswagen’s exit from the World Rally Championship was confirmed yesterday, a Finnish news agency YLE interviewed the four-time World Champion and Toyota’s team boss Tommi Mäkinen about Toyota’s next year’s drivers. Toyota has already confirmed they’ll have a Finn Juho Hänninen driving one of their cars next season. Toyota has also been predicted to sign another Finn, the promising Esapekka Lappi alongside Hänninen. Now though with Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen becoming free agents the driver’s market will change. All teams Hyundai, Citroen, M-Sport (Ford) and Toyota haven’t officially filled up all of their seats. One thing is certain though, not all three Volkswagen drivers drive as team-mates next year. Mäkinen said he and Toyota are definitely interested in all drivers and they are making an investigation on whether they will be able to sign at least one of the ex-Volkswagen drivers.
Juho Hänninen, Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latvala. Three possible Finns for Toyota for next season.
A Champion’s analysis
Mäkinen also analyzed the effect of Volkswagen’s departure for the World Rally Championship. He said that it is absolutely a loss for the WRC as its popularity has been on a rise since the German car manufacturer joined the WRC in 2013. Mäkinen fears that without a German team or driver WRC could lose foothold in Germany, one of the places WRC has been growing substantially. Maybe the return of Toyota and Citroen will block the negative effect Volkswagen’s exit will no doubt have. Only time will tell but there is hope, depending on where the ex-VW drivers end up, if anywhere.