Toyota chose Juho Hänninen for 2017 WRC comeback
Toyota Gazoo Racing announces today that Juho Hänninen would be the team’s first driver in the 2017 World Rally Championship season. The 35-year-old Finn would be navigated by experienced compatriot Kaj Lindström, who has some racing superstars in his codriver’s CV, such are Tommi Mäkinen, Kimi Raikkonen or Kristian Sohlberg. Hanninen has signed a one-year contract, with an option to extend beyond 2017.
Juho Hänninen didn’t compete in 2016, as he worked as the official test driver for Toyota, participating in the development of the all-new Toyota Yaris WRC. His last WRC participation was at 2015 Rally Finland with privately entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC. In 2014, Hänninen was driving for Hyundai in six WRC events, scoring points three times.
Earlier in a career, Hänninen spent four seasons driving for Škoda Motorsport, winning three major international titles with Škoda Fabia S2000 – the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the 2011 S-WRC championship and 2012 European Rally Championship.
“This really feels like a dream come true! Joining a works team with such potential for a full season is a real opportunity for me. We have been working together since the car’s first outing, so that makes it all the more exciting and motivating. The Yaris WRC is incredible. I can’t wait to get started at the Rallye Monte-Carlo,” Hanninen said.
Tommi Mäkinen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Team Principal, was pleased with the choice of Juho: “When he joined the team, Juho was incredibly motivated and involved. He also understood very clearly that we didn’t want to cut any corners and that the 2017 season would be about coming to grips with the championship and learning. He has quite a lot of experience in World Rally Championship, and I’m sure that because he has developed the Yaris WRC from the beginning, he knows the car best. Therefore, it seems to be the perfect combination to me. I know that everyone in the team will do their very best to ensure that all the energy and hard work spent on this project over the last few months bring us success.”