Published On: Thu, Feb 5th, 2015

Toyota Returns To World Rallying

Toyota will return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017 with a car developed and built by the Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) technical centre in Cologne, Germany.

Toyota Returns To World Rallying

Over the next two years TMG will continue its test program with the Yaris WRC car to prepare for a full return to the series in which Toyota won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ world championships in the 1990s.

The WRC announcement was made by Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda at a news conference in Tokyo, where the Yaris WRC made its public debut, complete with new launch livery.

The Yaris WRC has already completed a preliminary test program on tarmac and gravel stages throughout Europe, establishing a promising baseline on which to build over the coming months.

The car features a 1.6-litre turbo-charged, direct-injection engine that produces over 300hp, while advanced simulation, testing and production techniques have shaped the Yaris chassis.

With an official WRC program now confirmed, development will be expanded while the dedicated team of specialists assigned to engineer and operate the car will be increased.

Several young drivers have already tested the car and Frenchman Eric Camilli, 27, has been selected as the first member of a junior driver development scheme aimed at developing Toyota rally stars of the future.

Camilli will carry out the development program alongside last year’s Tour de Corse winner St├ęphane Sarrazin, also a driver in Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and experienced Finn Sebastian Lindholm.

Experience gained from the test program will assist Toyota as it prepares a car for the 2017 season when updated technical regulations are expected to be introduced. The program will include several WRC venues around Europe on a variety of surfaces.

The Yaris WRC follows an illustrious line of Toyota cars to carry the brand into WRC. When it makes its competitive debut in 2017, it will mark more than 17 years since the company’s last world championship rally, in 1999.

The 1999 season marked the end of over 25 years of continuous rally activity at TMG, which began life as Andersson Motorsport GmbH (named after company founder Ove Andersson). It competed in the WRC as Toyota Team Europe.

During that time, 43 wins were achieved with iconic cars like the Celica Twin-Cam Turbo and GT-Four variants and the Corolla WRC, featuring legendary drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.

TMG already stepped back into the rally world last year with the introduction of its GT86 CS-R3 customer rally car, designed to FIA R3 regulations.

Team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said it was a great honour to bring the Toyota name back to the WRC alongside continued participation in the World Endurance Championship.

“To run two works motorsport programs simultaneously is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed,” Mr Kinoshita said.

“There is much to do as we make the journey back to WRC but to have received the support of Toyota Motor Corporation and our President Akio Toyoda is already very encouraging,” he said.

“We are looking forward to taking the next steps with an extensive development plan and a junior driver development program. It is an exciting time and we are looking forward to this new challenge with great anticipation.”