Three Motorsport Ireland licence holders to compete in 2023 World Rally Championship
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 Gazoo 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 Gazoo Racing’s Next Generation second-tier team. Highlights include two third places, one each on Kenya Rally Safari and Rally Japan. 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. Katsuta and Johnston will participate outside of the team for the remaining rallies for which they are not entered for manufacturers’ points by the World Rally Team.
“I’m really excited to make this next step in my career. To have this kind of role with the team has been a big target for me and I want to thank Toyota Gazoo Racing for giving me such an amazing opportunity. Of course, it will bring a bit more pressure than before, but I am very motivated to keep working hard to be ready for next season and to do the best job I can for the team.,” said Katsuta.
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.”