Belfast Telegraph

Toyota re-vamp may see Meeke's World rally role come to an end

Uncertain future: Kris Meeke has few WRC options left
Uncertain future: Kris Meeke has few WRC options left

By Sammy Hamill

A continuing role in the World Rally Championship for Kris Meeke is looking unlikely after Toyota confirmed a totally new line-up for the 2020 series.

The Finland-based Japanese team revealed, as expected, six-time World champion Sebastien Ogier is joining them from Citroen to drive alongside former Ulster Rally winner Elfyn Evans and the new WRC2 champion, teenager Kalle Rovanpera

It means no place for Meeke or his 2019 team-mate Jari Matti Latvala and with Citroen pulling out in the wake of Ogier's decision to cut short his contract for the move to Toyota, there are virtually no options left for the Dungannon man. Or indeed any of the other group of up to eight current drivers seeking to stay in the WRC series.

The shock decision of Ott Tanak to quit the Toyota team and switch to Hyundai just days after he had won the World title triggered a series of events which have led to the current upheaval.

His exit opened the door for Ogier to call time on a frustrating return to Citroen after back-to-back World titles with Ford and the French manufacturer responded by announcing they were quitting the WRC with immediate effect.

It was clear Ogier had his eyes on Tanak's place at Toyota and now team boss Tommy Makinen has confirmed he is on board for 2020 in a re-vamped line-up which will include Evans, who moves from M-Sport Ford, and rising star Rovanpera.

Meeke and Latvala, it seems, have paid the price for not delivering the manufacturers' championship to go with Tanak's drivers' title.

With Citroen out and four drivers already listed by Hyundai - Tanak, Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Sebastien Loeb - only Evans's place at M-Sport alongside Teemu Suninen remains up for grabs.

Possible replacements include Esapekka Lappi, the unfortunate victim of Citroen's knee-jerk reaction, Andreas Mikkelsen, Craig Breen, Hayden Paddon and Mads Ostberg, as well as Toyota exiles Meeke and Latvala.

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