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Toyota youngsters return in 2018

Toyota’s young driver development scheme will continue in 2018, when Japanese rising stars Takamoto Katsuta and Hiroki Arai will line up for at least five world championship appearances.

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program was established in 2015 and is run from Finland in partnership with Tommi Mäkinen Racing. So far, the scheme has focused around the development of Arai [above] and Katsuta, both of whom have progressed to WRC 2 level.

There will be more outings in the championship’s premier support category in 2018, when Arai and Katsuta will tackle a 10 round mixed programme of WRC and national-level rallies in Ford Fiesta R5 cars.

Their world championship campaigns will begin at Rally Sweden in February, and will include the rounds in Corsica, Portugal, Italy and Finland. The drivers have tackled eight of the ten rallies before, and the team expects to see ‘further growth and more active participation’ on their return visits.

A team spokesman said: “We were very pleased to see the progress of our drivers in 2017. With their driving skills and pacenoting already at a good level, the next step for them is to work on consistency and develop their mental strength to handle the increased pressures in WRC2 rallies.

“2018 will be a very important year for the Challenge Program, and I would say that next year will show what the future holds for our drivers in this sport.”

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