Toyota has officially confirmed it will be returning to the World Rally Championship in 2017. Its new rally weapon of choice will be the Yaris WRC, featured here in special launch livery.
Testing of the Yaris WRC has been underway in Europe for some time. Toyota’s commitment will now increase following this announcement and will include a young driver development program as well. The team will be based in Colgone, Germany.
Why wait until 2017 if you’ve already been testing the car for close to 12 months? It’s a pretty good question and the answer lies in the expectation that new regulations will be introduced to the WRC at the end of the 2016 season.
It wouldn’t make sense to introduce a new car with only one season to go before a regulation overhaul. But then why run a three-year test program without knowing what the regs will be for your first race?
In the end that’s for Toyota to worry about, all we know is we’re glad to see the four-time constructors’ champions returning to one of world motorsport’s greatest categories.
World Rally Championship return for Toyota
30 January 2015 â€“ Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2017 with a car developed and built entirely at its technical centre in Cologne.
Over the next two years TMG will continue its test programme with the Yaris WRC in preparation for a return to the series in which it won four driversâ€™ and three manufacturersâ€™ world championships in the 1990s.
The news was announced today by Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation President, at a news conference where the Yaris WRC made its public debut, in its new launch livery.
The Yaris WRC has already completed a preliminary test programme on Tarmac and gravel stages across Europe, establishing a promising baseline on which to build over the coming months.
The car features a 1.6-litre turbocharged, direct injection engine producing more than 300bhp. Its chassis has been formed using advanced simulation, testing and production techniques.
Now that an official WRC programme has been confirmed, development will be expanded and the dedicated team of specialists to engineer and run 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, designed to nurture the Toyota rally stars of the future.
Camilli will carry out the development programme alongside StÃ©phane Sarrazin, winner of last yearâ€™s Tour de Corse and a racer in Toyotaâ€™s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and Sebastian Lindholm.
The programme will include several European WRC venues, with different surfaces. The experience gained will help Toyotaâ€™s preparation of the car for the 2017 season, when updated championship regulations are expected to be introduced.
The Yaris WRC follows an illustrious line of Toyota WRC cars and its 2017 debut will come 18 years after Toyotaâ€™s final WRC rally, in 1999.
That season marked the end of more than 25 yearsâ€™ continuous rally activity at TMG, which began life as Andersson Motorsport, named after the companyâ€™s founder, the late Ove Andersson, and which competed in the WRC as Toyota Team Europe.
During that time the team achieved 43 wins, with celebrated cars such as the Celica Twin-cam Turbo and GT-Four and the Corolla WRC. The line-up of legendary drivers included Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.
Yoshiaki Kinshita, TMG President, said: â€œIt is a great honour to be asked to bring the Toyota name back to the World Rally Championship alongside our continued participation in the World Endurance Championship.
â€œTo run two works motorsport programmes simultaneously is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed. 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.
â€œWe are looking forward to taking the next steps with an extensive development plan and a junior driver development programme. It is an exciting time and we are looking forward to this new challenge with great anticipation.â€
YARIS WRC TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Type: Steel body shell
Brakes: 300mm discs (gravel)355mm discs (Tarmac)
Wheels: 7 x 15in (gravel)8 x 18in (Tarmac)
Length (mm): 3,910
Width (mm): 1,820
Engine type: Four-cylinder in-line
Direct injection pressure: Up to 200bar
Max. turbo pressure: 2.5bar
Air restrictor: 33mm
Max. power: 300bhp @ 6,000rpm (approx..)
Max. torque: 420Nm
Max. revs: 8,500
Transmission: Six-speed sequential
Clutch: ZF Sachs
TOYOTAâ€™S WRC HERITAGE
1973 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 10th (1 win)
Toyotaâ€™s first victory, Walter Boyce/Doug Woods driving a Corolla TE20 on the Press On Regardless Rally (United States)
1974 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 4th
Future World Champion BjÃ¶rn Waldegaard makes his Toyota debut
1975 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 7th (1 win)
First victory for TTE with Hannu Mikkola/Atso Aho driving a Corolla Levin in the 1000 Lakes Rally (Finland)
1976 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 6th
1977 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 3rd
1978 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 6th
1979 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 5th
1980 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 7th
1981 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 8th
1982 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 5th (1 win)
TMG founder Ove Andersson drives in WRC for the last time, driving a Celica 2000GT
1983 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 6th (1 win)
1984 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 4th (1 win)
First Safari Rally (Kenya) victory with BjÃ¶rn Waldegaard/Hans Thorzelius driving a Celica Twin-cam Turbo (TA64)
1985 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 5th (2 wins)
1986 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 6th (2 wins)
Toyotaâ€™s third successive Safari Rally win, with BjÃ¶rn Waldegaard/Fred Gallagher driving a Celica Twin-cam Turbo (TA64)
1987 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 7th
1988 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 5th
Introduction of the Celica GT Four, which would go on to win 29 WRC rallies and six World Championships (two manufacturersâ€™ and four driversâ€™) in its ST165, ST185 and ST205 guises
1989 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 2nd (1 win)
Carlos Sainz makes his Toyota debut, competing in seven rallies and finishing on the podium in three
1990 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 2nd (5 wins)
Carlos Sainz becomes Toyotaâ€™s first driversâ€™ World Champion, at the wheel of a Celica GT-Four (ST165)
1991 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 2nd (6 wins)
Toyotaâ€™sâ€™ first victory in the legendary Monte Carlo Rally
1992 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 2nd (5 wins)
1993 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 1st (7 wins)
Toyota becomes the first Japanese company to win the World Rally Championship
1994 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 1st (5 wins)
Toyota achieves a second hat-trick of Safari Rally wins, with Ian Duncan driving a Celica Turbo WRC
1995 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 3rd, disqualified (1 win)
1998 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 2nd (3 wins)
After a two-season absence, Toyota wins on its return at the first attempt, in the Monte Carlo Rally, thanks to Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya in a Corolla WRC
1999 Manufacturersâ€™ Championship: 1st (1 win)
Toyotaâ€™s third manufacturersâ€™ World Championship; only two companies have won more in WRC history