TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) will return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017 with a car developed and built entirely at its Cologne technical centre.
Over the next two years TMG will continue its test programme with the Yaris WRC car to prepare for a full return to the series in which it won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championships in the 1990s.
Today’s news was announced 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 programme 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, which produces over 300hp, while advanced simulation, testing and production techniques have shaped the Yaris chassis.
With an official WRC programme now confirmed, development will be expanded while the dedicated team of specialists 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 designed with the goal of developing TOYOTA rally stars of the future.
Eric will carry out the development programme alongside last year’s Tour de Corse winner Stéphane Sarrazin, also a racer in TOYOTA’s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and Sebastian Lindholm.
That test programme will include several WRC venues around Europe on a variety of surfaces. Experience gained will assist TOYOTA as it prepares a car for the 2017 season, when updated technical regulations are expected to be introduced.
The Yaris WRC follows an illustrious line of TOYOTA cars to carry the brand into WRC and when it makes its competitive debut in 2017, it will mark almost two decades since the company’s final World Championship rally, in 1999.
That 1999 season marked the end of over 25 years continuous rally activity at TMG, which began life as Andersson Motorsport GmbH, named after company founder Ove Andersson, and competed in WRC as TOYOTA Team Europe.
During that time, 43 wins were achieved with iconic cars like the Celica Twincam 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.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, TMG President: “It 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. To 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. We 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.”
Yaris WRC Technical Specifications
Type Steel body shell
Brakes 300mm discs on gravel, 355mm on tarmac
Wheels 7 x 15” gravel, 8 x 18” tarmac
Dimensions Length: 3910 mm
Width: 1820 mm
Engine capacity 1.6litres
Type In-line four-cylinder
Direct injection Up to 200bar
Turbo pressure 2.5bar absolute (maximum)
Air restrictor 33mm
Power Around 300hp (at 6,000rpm)
Max revs 8,500rpm
Transmission Six-speed sequential
Clutch ZF Sachs
TOYOTA’s WRC Heritage
1973 Manufacturers’ Championship: 10th (1 win)
TOYOTA’s first victory, Walter Boyce/Doug Woods driving a Corolla TE20 on the Press On Regardless Rally (United States)
1974 Manufacturers’ Championship: 4th
Future World Champion Björn Waldegaard makes his TOYOTA debut
1975 Manufacturers’ Championship: 7th (1 win)
First victory for TTE with Hannu Mikkola/Atso Aho driving a Corolla Levin in the 1000 Lakes Rally (Finland)
1976 Manufacturers’ Championship: 6th
1977 Manufacturers’ Championship: 3rd
1978 Manufacturers’ Championship: 6th
1979 Manufacturers’ Championship: 5th
1980 Manufacturers’ Championship: 7th
1981 Manufacturers’ Championship: 8th
1982 Manufacturers’ Championship: 5th (1 win)
TMG founder Ove Andersson drives in WRC for the last time, driving a Celica 2000GT
1983 Manufacturers’ Championship: 6th (1 win)
1984 Manufacturers’ Championship: 4th (1 win)
First Safari Rally (Kenya) victory with Björn Waldegaard/Hans Thorzelius driving a Celica Twincam Turbo (TA64)
1985 Manufacturers’ Championship: 5th (2 wins)
1986 Manufacturers’ Championship: 6th (2 wins)
TOYOTA’s third successive Safari Rally win, with Björn Waldegaard/Fred Gallagher driving a Celica Twincam Turbo (TA64)
1987 Manufacturers’ Championship: 7th
1988 Manufacturers’ Championship: 5th
Introduction of the Celica GT Four, which would go on to win 29 WRC rallies and six World Championships (two manufacturers’ and four drivers’) in its ST165, ST185 and ST205 guises
1989 Manufacturers’ Championship: 2nd (1 win)
Carlos Sainz makes his TOYOTA debut, competing in seven rallies and finishing on the podium in three
1990 Manufacturers’ Championship: 2nd (5 wins)
Carlos Sainz becomes TOYOTA’s first drivers’ World Champion, at the wheel of a Celica GT-Four (ST165)
1991 Manufacturers’ Championship: 2nd (6 wins)
TOYOTA’ first victory in the legendary Monte Carlo Rally
1992 Manufacturers’ Championship: 2nd (5 wins)
1993 Manufacturers’ Championship: 1st (7 wins)
TOYOTA becomes the first Japanese company to win the World Rally Championship
1994 Manufacturers’ Championship: 1st (5 wins)
TOYOTA achieves a second hat-trick of Safari Rally wins, with Ian Duncan driving a Celica Turbo WRC
1995 Manufacturers’ Championship: 3rd, disqualified (1 win)
1998 Manufacturers’ 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 Manufacturers’ Championship: 1st (1 win)
TOYOTA’s third manufacturers’ World Championship; only two companies have won more in WRC history