Toyota promotes two drivers in WRC2 as part of its WRC Challenge Program

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT announces today that Hikaru Kogure and Yuki Yamamoto will take part in WRC2 class next year while Nao Otake will compete in the Japanese championship as part of the WRC Challenge Program.

Takamoto Katsuta was the first Japanese driver who had the chance to be a member of Toyota's WRC Challenge Program as the team gave him the chance to improve himself by taking part in WRC2 class and in the championship of Finland with a Ford Fiesta MKII of Tommi Makinen's team. At the beginning of 2022, Toyota named another three Japanese drivers for its programme who had the chance to start their train in Finland and had Mikko Hirvonen as their teacher. Kogure and Yamamoto are set to compete in selected rallies across Europe next year whereas Otake will continue his development in the Japanese Rally Championship in 2024. Finally, it must be mentioned that Toyota is planning to produce the GR Yaris Rally2 until the end of this season and to bring these Rally2 machineries in World Rally Championship by the beginning of 2024.

"I am really happy that I can continue in this program", Kogure said. 

"I felt that I had done the best that I can, so I knew that I would not have any regrets. 

"At the beginning, I struggled quite a lot as I had very little experience on gravel or snow, and I found the pacenote system to be completely different. 

"But I did a lot of recce training with my co-driver Topi and I felt a lot of progress during the most recent rallies in Poland, Latvia and Finland. 

"Rally2 is going to be another step but I’m really looking forward to it. 

"I have to say a big thank you to TGR and the coaches. 

"Thanks to their efforts, I could get a lot of experience and progress. 

"Now I need to work to get better results in the future".

Moreover, Yamamoto stated: "Of course, I am very happy and honoured to be able to continue with such an amazing program. 

"It’s been almost two years and we have learned a lot of things driving the Rally4 cars, and in the last few rallies we showed some good speed. So I think we progressed a lot and I feel I’m ready to step up to Rally2. 

"Of course, it’s a very competitive category with a lot of good drivers so it will be very interesting to see how we can build up the pace and our skills. 

"It won’t be easy to be at top speed immediately, but I believe we can have a good learning process and hopefully we can fight for top results in the future. 

"I would really like to thank TGR and the people who are supporting us, because without them this would be impossible. 

"It allows me to focus on rallying and it’s a very rare opportunity".

Finally, Otake said: "In the two years since I joined the program, a lot has changed for me. 

"It was not easy and it has been challenging, but it has given me great experience to take into the future. 

"I have learned a lot of good things, not just in rallying but also as a person. 

"Naturally, it is disappointing for me that I will not be able to continue with the program in Europe next year, but I am pleased that I will still have the chance to keep competing in rallying. 

"I want to say a big thank you to TGR and everybody who has supported me. 

"I have never given up during my career, and I will keep pushing in Japan next year. 

"I hope to show my speed and everything that I have learned from this program".

Photo Credits: Toyota

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