At least three Motorsport Ireland competition licence holders will compete in the top tier of the World Rally Championship for manufacturer teams next season
Tyrone-based co-driver Aaron Johnston and his driver Takamoto Katsuta have been promoted to Toyota Gazzo Racing’s lead team for the season ahead.
The Japanese /Irish combination earned their promotion to the top tier after a very strong season with Toyota Gazzo Racing’s Next Generation second-tier team. Highlights include two third places, one each on Kenya Rally Safari and Rally Japan.
“We are delighted to be promoted into the third car for 2023 and it’s something that will be very special for us and I think it’s pretty well deserved after the consistent year that we’ve had with several fourth, fifth and sixth place finishes and of course the two podiums,” said Johnston
“Obviously with us being the most consistent crews throughout the year and scoring points on every rally bar New Zealand it should work well next year for us being in the third car.
Next year they will share driving the team’s third car with Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais.
Ogier is yet to decide what rallies he will enter next year but it’s almost certain he will contest the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo in January.
“With Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans fighting for the victories, the plan is to fight for more podiums in 2023, “ he added
“We will be sharing the car with Seb for half the season so of course we have a bit of pressure and there’s a bit more responsibility but if we do the same that we did this year then I feel I feel it can be a very strong year for us and for Toyota
“Thanks to everybody else involved for promoting us up to the A team – it is a challenge that we’re really looking forward to and we will do our best for everybody involved to make sure that we can win the manufacturers’ title for the third year in a row for Toyota.” Katsuta and Johnston will participate all rounds of the championship in a Toyota Yaris Raly1 but will revert to the non-points scoring ‘’B’ team for the events Ogier is contesting
Craig Breen will return to the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally team after one season with M-Sport.
The Waterford man and his Cavan co-driver James Fulton will share a car with Dani Sordo.
Like their Toyota counterparts, their full programme has not yet been revealed.
“Joining Hyundai Motorsport for the 2023 WRC season feels like a homecoming for me. We have secured some very memorable results together in the past, including several runner-up results, so hopefully, I will be able to take that a step further,” said Breen“I have followed the team’s progress and development with interest this season, and I can see the momentum that has been building. Having the backing of a manufacturer team like Hyundai is special, and I’m sure we’ll have plenty more reasons to celebrate next season.”