Toyota’s 2022 test program took a step forward this week with current drivers Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä getting behind the wheel of the hybrid Yaris WRC for the first time.
Until now Toyota test driver Juho Hänninen has been the only person to run the 2022-specification car, but Evans and Rovanperä are having their first taste on roads around Gap in France.
World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier will not drive the test Toyota this week and is understood to be relaxed about his initial running, given that he will not contest the full season in 2022.
This is very much a test rather than anything approaching a pre-event; it’s still far too warm to simulate anything for round one
A source in France told DirtFish: “The team is running on some fairly typical Monte roads, with some quite bumpy asphalt – this is very much a Tarmac test rather than anything approaching a pre-event; it’s still far too warm to simulate anything for round one.”
DirtFish understands the current drivers have not been in the car before now, partly because they’ve been so busy with testing and competing in the current car, and partly because the team is keen to have its hybrid Rally1 machine closer to the final 2022 specification before the regular drivers join the test program rather than bringing them in through the early development phase.
As well as Toyota’s running in France, which began with Hänninen at the wheel, M-Sport Ford’s Puma Rally1 has been running through some rough gravel work in Sardinia.
Matthew Wilson, Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith have all driven the car, with Greensmith concluding the running on Thursday.