Toyota Gazoo Racing launched its WRC car in Helsinki, Finland earlier today. It was also announced that Toyota signed ex-Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala to race alongside Juho Hänninen in 2017. The Japanese car manufacturer signed a third Finn, WRC2 Champion Esapekka Lappi but he won’t be racing in the first rallys as Toyota is projected to get a third car running around the fifth or sixth rally of the season. Latvala’s move to Toyota shows he has completed a full circle in his career as he started his career with the Japanese team in 2001.
If you want to win, employ a Finn
Toyota has now filled its seats with an all-Finnish line up. Only time will tell if this is the right way to go. On paper, everything looks to be in order – Latvala brings experience, Lappi youth and raw speed and Hänninen has worked with Toyota through the whole team development phase. What adds the Finnish aspect at Toyota is that their team boss is four-time WRC World Champion Tommi Mäkinen. There are many risks for a new team to enter a motorsport series, and the hope is that the jump to World Rally Championship will go better that Toyota’s earlier venture to Formula One, which cost them huge piles of money without any real rewards. There could be a lot of success in stored for Toyota and Finland, but who knows, there are more than one team in the Championship that yearn for success.