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Toyota open to renting out fourth car at 2023 WRC events

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala says his team will consider renting out a fourth GR Yaris at selected 2023 World Rally Championship events.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The Japanese brand revealed its 2023 driver line-up on Friday, which will see Takamoto Katsuta promoted to the factory team’s third entry for a series of rallies next year.

Katsuta’s promotion to the main factory team arrives after finishing 12 of the 13 rallies this year inside the top eight on his way to a career-best fifth in the championship standings.

The 29-year-old will share the third manufacturer points-scoring seat with eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, who has agreed to another partial campaign with Toyota after driving six rallies for the team this year.

Katsuta will contest the full season but will switch to a fourth GR Yaris for events that Ogier is entered, ensuring that a fourth car would be available for rent for up to seven events next year.

Latvala says the team is keen to expand its customer racing programme and is willing to rent out the car to drivers. It has already received some initial requests.

“It is now clear that our line-up is what we will go with for the season,” said Latvala during a media call following the driver line-up announcement.

“But, of course we have been considering that - on [seven] events where we have a fourth car available - we would consider a renting option.

“But this is purely on renting, nothing else. If there is somebody interested in renting a car, we are looking at that option.

“At this point we don’t currently know if it will happen, but we are of course collecting data to see if there are drivers who are interested in that.

“We have step by step built up a customer programme because this is something we want to do in the future, we want to run some cars and maybe think about the business side of it.

"It is a good opportunity to get the experience of it and in the past it has been one event, but now there would be more events coming if there is a driver hiring the vehicle. It would be interesting for us.

“That fourth car that is a rental option is 100% for business - we are not targeting to score points. We have got some requests but we have not made any decision at this point.”

Latvala also reiterated that the team had interest from drivers looking to claim the third driver seat vacancy following Esapekka Lappi’s decision love the role to join Hyundai.

However, Katsuta’s consistent displays this year proved to the team that the Japanese driver had proved he deserved the drive alongside Ogier.

“Yes of course when Ott [Tanak] left Hyundai and then there was the speculation about Esapekka going to Hyundai it was at that time I received phone calls and emails about the position,” Latvala added.

“The drivers that needed a seat were of course contacting us as we had something available.

“We decided to go this way and not sign an extra driver because we think Taka is ready to take that step. We were very confident and happy with this.”

It is anticipated that Ogier will start his partial season at January's Monte Carlo season opener, while Katsuta is likely to step into the third car for the first time at Rally Sweden in February.

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