Ogier, who is currently chasing an eighth world title in nine years, had previously announced that he would step down from a full-time program next year and play selected laps. It was widely predicted that Lappi would take his place in the rallies the Frenchman leaves out.
Lappi, who finished fourth in a privately entered Yaris World Rally Car at the Secto Automotive Rally Finland last weekend, clinched his only WRC victory with Toyota in 2017. After the 2018 season he moved to CitroÃ«n Racing and then to M-Sport Ford.
Julien Ingrassia, who has been co-piloting Ogier since his career began in 2006, will retire at the end of this season. He will be replaced by Benjamin Veillas, who has worked closely with Ogier on tests and in his safety note crew.
As expected, Elfyn Evans and Kalle RovanperÃ¤ have signed new contracts with the Japanese manufacturer after two years and will contest all 13 rounds. Toyota has not determined which events Ogier will contest.
All four drivers have previously won rallies for the team and team boss Jari-Matti Latvala believes that Lappi can improve his record.
“He’s shown to us before that he can win and I think he’s grown a lot since then,” he said. âHis motivation is very high, and when he returned last weekend, he proved his speed.
“I think he’s the perfect driver to share the place with SÃ©b, to help us in the championship, but also to be there to fight for victories himself.”
Lappi was supported by TGR mechanics and engineers last weekend and admitted that returning to the team was a natural step.
“It feels like I’m coming home,” he enthused. âI have great memories of the past and it was really nice to work with people from the team again at Rally Finland. When I got back into the Yaris WRC it felt like this was my car again.
âOf course we will have a new car next year and although I haven’t driven it yet, it seems to be completely different with the new regulations. But it will be interesting to be a part of it and I’m really looking forward to the future. “
Ogier’s decision to resign was primarily geared towards spending more time with his family, but he looks forward to “doing in some areas what I love”.
âThe schedule has not yet been set, but I’ll do my best to help the team in the manufacturers’ championship and to develop the car further. I’m excited to see what this new generation of cars will bring to the sport and I know the team puts a lot of effort into it, âhe said.
Latvala said it was important for the team, for the team for both the drivers ‘and manufacturers’ titles.
âElfyn is a really consistent driver who always helps to get the team points towards the championship, but as he proved with his victory at Rally Finland, he is also absolutely one of the fastest drivers and definitely one of the contenders on the title.
âWe saw really great performances from Kalle this year. He is constantly evolving and with experience he can become a strong contender for championships, âhe added.