you can’t say that is a surprise. Toyota Gazoo Racing has announced that Juho Hänninen will be his first pilot ahead of the season 2017 WRC, which implies the return of the japanese brand to World Rally after sixteen years of absence. The Finnish driver, 35 years of age, has been commissioned to carry out the majority of tests of the new Toyota Yaris WRC, so that it has become a fundamental part of the development of the World Rally Car of the team of Tommi Mäkinen. For his work and after the completion of the recognition of each rally, his hiring was made.
For the moment, Tommi Mäkinen and Hänninen have signed an agreement for a season, so that the Finnish driver will be competing in all rounds of the WRC in 2017 at the controls of one of the Toyota Yaris WRC, with the option to extend this relationship beyond the next year. As of now, Juho Hänninen will be joined on his right hand by the experienced co-driver Kaj Lindström, who in the past worked with the own Mäkinen. For his part, the pattern of the Toyota Gazoo Racing has delayed the confirmation of the second pilot until the final round of the WRC in Australia, being Esapekka Lappi the big favorite for this post.
In any case, the recruitment of Hänninen is not casual. The champion of the IRC in 2010, the category SWRC of the World 2011 and the European Rally in 2013 was an important part of the development of the first Hyundai i20 WRC, experience that has served to meet this new challenge. After your confirmation, the finn couldn’t be more pleased: “Is a dream come true. Join a team with so much potential for a full season is a very important opportunity for me. We have worked together since the first test of the new car, so it is more exciting and motivating. The Toyota Yaris WRC is amazing“.
Tommi Mäkinen it has also been shown satisfied with being able to count with Juho Hänninen given that your experience is very important for the team: “When you joined the team, Juho proved to be incredibly motivated and involved. He also understood very clearly the goals of our project, and that the season of 2017 will be the year of back to the championship, and therefore of learning. He has a lot of experience in the World Championship Rally and I’m sure that his work of development of the Yaris WRC since its inception will allow you to know the car better than anyone else”.