Tänak defects to Toyota for 2018 WRC season
Ott Tänak will switch to Toyota Gazoo Racing for next year’s World Rally Championship.
Tänak will team up with Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi for all 13 rounds of the championship, replacing Juho Hänninen.
A resulting shuffle in the Toyota line-up means that the team will run only two cars in Coffs Harbour next month, making the next round in Great Britain Hänninen’s last with the team.
Tänak is currently second in the championship, driving for the M-Sport Ford team, having broken through for his first rally win at Rally Italy in June then doubling his tally at Rallye Deutschland in August.
Toyota team principal Tommi Mäkinen was enthusiastic about signing the Estonian.
“We’re delighted to have secured the services of Ott, having had our eyes on him for a while,” said Mäkinen.
“He represents the perfect blend of youth and experience, together with the right sort of mental attitude that means he will fit into our team very well.”
Kaj Lindström, currently Hänninen’s co-driver, will replace Jarmo Lehtinen as Toyota’s sporting director, the latter having departed in August.
Lindström, a former co-driver to Mäkinen, will commence the role from Kennards Hire Rally Australia, hastening the end of Hänninen’s tenure.
“One of my favourite memories of my own driving career is our win in Monte-Carlo together,” reflected Mäkinen.
“From this, and the experience of working with him since, I know that Kaj is the ultimate professional and he is sure to be a strong asset as we continue our team’s development.”
There has been no official word on the identity of Tänak’s co-driver.
The 30-year-old, who could not comment on the signing due to contractual reasons, currently takes pace notes from Martin Järveoja in his M-Sport Fiesta.
Rally Great Britain takes place on October 26-29, followed by the season-ending Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast from November 16-19.