Hanninen gets first 2017 Toyota WRC seat

Hanninen gets first 2017 Toyota WRC seat
By AutoSport

Toyota Gazoo Racing has confirmed its first World Rally Championship driver for 2017, announcing that Juho Hanninen will drive for the team.

The 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge winner and '12 European Rally Champion was part of Hyundai's driver line-up when it re-entered the WRC in '14, contesting six rallies.

Hanninen's appointment had been expected, as the driver who has completed the most test miles in Toyota's all-new Yaris WRC, with Esapekka Lappi set to be the second driver.

He will be co-driven next season by Kaj Lindstrom - the same man who co-drove for team principal Tommi Makinen.

"This really feels like a dream come true," said Hanninen.

"Joining a works team with such potential for a full season is a real opportunity for me.

"We have been working together since the car's first outing, so that makes it all the more exciting and motivating.

"The Yaris WRC is incredible. I can't wait to get started at the Rallye Monte-Carlo."

Makinen said Hanninen's knowledge of the car and experience of the WRC made him the obvious choice for what is expected, initially, to be the first of two cars on the early rounds of the 2017 season.

"When he joined the team, Juho was incredibly motivated and involved," he said.

"He also understood very clearly that we didn't want to cut any corners and that the 2017 season would be about coming to grips with the championship and learning.

"He has quite a lot of experience in World Rally Championship, and I'm sure that, because he has developed the Yaris WRC from the beginning, he knows the car best.

"Therefore, it seems to be the perfect combination to me.

"I know that everyone in the team will do their very best to ensure that all the energy and hard work spent on this project over the last few months bring us success."

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