Ogier in frame to join Evans in revamped Toyota line-up
Elfyn Evans will be announced as a Toyota World Rally Championship driver as early as the end of next week, and could be joined by Sebastien Ogier in the marque's 2020 line-up.
Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen has dismissed speculation he has signed both drivers, but has told Motorsport.com his driver line-up could be confirmed by the end of next week.
Toyota Gazoo Racing has been forced to review its driver line-up following Ott Tanak’s surprise departure for Hyundai.
Evans visited TGR’s Puuppola base at the end of last month and is understood to have agreed terms to drive a Yaris WRC next season.
Ogier is reckoned to have been in discussions with Toyota and would be clear to join the programme if his current employer Citroen withdraws from the series – a scenario understood to be under discussion within the French firm.
Ogier’s other option would, of course, be a return to M-Sport – the team with which he won his last two drivers’ titles.
Makinen told Motorsport.com: “Not yet. We don’t anything to say. Honestly, I tell you we haven’t done anything yet. Also now we have this drama in Australia [the cancellation of Rally Australia due to bushfires in New South Wales] which has a little bit disturbed discussions. Anything, I can’t say anything for the moment.
“As soon as we have something 100 per cent then we will communicate this to you. I hope this could be for the end of the coming week.”
Elfyn Evans, M-Sport Ford WRT
Photo by: M-Sport
Asked for his thoughts on Evans, Makinen added: “Sure we have been following him and his improvements and sure, we are very, very interested.”
Evans’ case for a Toyota seat was understood to have been strengthened when Ogier selected the Welshman as his preferred teammate when reportedly asked the question during discussions with TGR.
Asked how interested he would be if Ogier was free from Citroen, Makinen replied: “Let’s see. We don’t know what is happening. It’s very worrying if this talk is true for Citroen, but nothing is sure. We need the manufacturers for the good of the championship and the sport.”
If Citroen does depart, the only option for the pair would be to join fellow WRC stars Hayden Paddon, Craig Breen, Esapekka Lappi, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg in the hunt for a seat with M-Sport.
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