Toyota Gazoo Racing boss Tommi Mäkinen has dropped his biggest hint yet that Juho Hänninen will drive a Yaris World Rally Car when the Japanese manufacturer returns to the WRC in 2017.Mäkinen was today reported by Finnish broadcaster YLE as saying: “Next season, Toyota has three race drivers, one of which is very likely to be Juho Hänninen.”
YLE reported that Mäkinen has been influenced by Hänninen’s work at Hyundai Motorsport in developing its i20 World Rally Car ahead of and during its debut season in 2014 and a similar with role with Skoda Motorsport.
Hänninen won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the SWRC and the European Championship in consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2012 in a Skoda Fabia S2000.
The 34-year-old Finn has been out of a full-time drive since leaving Hyundai at the end of 2014. His last WRC outing was in Finland last year when he finished sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS).
Hänninen has completed the recce at all WRC rounds this season and has shared driving duties in the Yaris WRC with Mäkinen since testing of the 2017-specification car started in Finland last month. The programme is due to continue in France later this month.
Mäkinen revealed last December that he hoped to run three cars in the 2017 WRC and a host of drivers have been linked with a potential seat in the Yaris.