Driver se­lec­tion on hold un­til au­tumn but Maki­nen could be first to test new car

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Toy­ota will not make any an­nounce­ments on its driver line-up un­til the au­tumn, ac­cord­ing to team prin­ci­pal Tommi Maki­nen.

It was ex­pected that Mikko Hir­vo­nen and Juho Han­ni­nen would be an­nounced as test driv­ers ear­lier this month. While that hasn’t hap­pened, both are still set to drive the Yaris WRC once it is up and run­ning.

Maki­nen could, how­ever, be the driver who puts the first miles on the all-new Yaris WRC.

“I think that’s pos­si­ble,” he said. “I would like to drive for the first test, it would be nice – of course I will take the en­gi­neers with me, but I think I can still drive.”

Han­ni­nen (along with co-driver Kaj Lind­strom) was present in Mex­ico for the recce last week, spark­ing ru­mours that he had done a deal for next sea­son – a ru­mour that strength­ened with the news that the pair would com­plete the recce for all re­main­ing rounds of the cham­pi­onship.

Asked if Han­ni­nen could fea­ture in the 2017 line-up, Maki­nen said: “We will see. It’s one of the pos­si­bil­i­ties. The rea­son he does the recce is to help us pre­pare the test pro­gramme and to help us find the iden­ti­cal con­di­tions for the test­ing this year. It’s re­ally help­ing us train­ing for next year.

“It’s not yet the time to talk about driv­ers re­ally. We will be look­ing at all dif­fer­ent kinds of pos­si­bil­i­ties, but it’s too early right now. It’s more rea­son­able to talk about this in the au­tumn.”

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