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Tommi Maki­nen’s Toy­ota team will be led by two Finns next sea­son, with Juho Han­ni­nen and Es­apekka Lappi likely to be named at the end of this month.

The team is ex­pected to re­veal an up­dated Yaris WRC at the Paris Mo­tor Show – po­ten­tially in the 2017 liv­ery – and sources sug­gest the driver line-up could be com­ing at the same time.

As a pri­mary test driver of the Yaris WRC, Maki­nen has openly ad­mit­ted that 35-year-old Han­ni­nen would play a role next sea­son. Mo­tor­sport News un­der­stands Han­ni­nen and his coun­try­man Lappi will both tackle the full cal­en­dar with a third car run­ning for an as-yet-un­known driver. The third Yaris won’t be seen, how­ever, un­til later in the sea­son.

Hav­ing come close to land­ing Kris Meeke at the end of last sea­son, Maki­nen then had dis­cus­sions with Thierry Neuville, but couldn’t find an agree­ment with the Belgian.

Neuville’s fu­ture in the sport re­mains some­thing of a mys­tery. He is be­lieved to have had of­fers from both Citroen and Hyundai, but both are multi-year op­tions and this year’s Rally Italy win­ner is keen on a sin­gle-sea­son agree­ment. His re­luc­tance to sign for ei­ther squad means only he and Mads Ost­berg, of the cur­rent world cham­pi­onship driv­ers, have yet to test a 2017-spec­i­fi­ca­tion car.

Lappi, cur­rently un­der con­tract with Skoda, ad­mit­ted he had vis­ited Maki­nen’s Pu­up­pola fac­tory and told MN soon af­ter: “Toy­ota would be in­ter­est­ing for me, but they are in­ter­est­ing for many other driv­ers as well. This is not our de­ci­sion to make, but I would like [to drive there] next year.”

Lappi, 25, has yet to make his World Rally Car de­but, but Han­ni­nen – a for­mer Euro­pean, SWRC and IRC cham­pion – has driven for both the Hyundai and M-sport fac­tory teams be­fore switch­ing to Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing.

Maki­nen: eye­ing Han­ni­nen and Lappi

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