TMG-developed Yaris WRC to hit the stages in 2017
Japanese giant Toyota has announced its intention to return to the World Rally Championship in 2017.
The new machine, dubbed the Yaris WRC, is to be developed and tested by Toyota Motorsport GmbH, based in Germany.
Speaking at the group’s 2015 global motorsport update in Tokyo, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said time spent demonstrating an all-wheel drive 86 at Rally Finland in 2014 solidified the decision. “During my time in Finland many rally fans asked when Toyota would come back to WRC. People talked about Toyota’s history in WRC.
“I started to feel strongly that we must return while people still remember. We are doing it to make ever-better cars. We’re doing it to make people smile. For those reasons we are going to return to WRC and start competing again in 2017,” Toyoda explained.
In present specification the Yaris produces ‘around 300bhp’ (224kW) from its 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit, with 420Nm torque and a rev limit of 8500rpm. A six-speed sequential gearbox is provided by ZF Sachs.
When asked if TMG could run two world championship programs simultaneously (WRC and WEC), TMG President Yoshiaki Kinoshita said: “It is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed.” At the height of Toyota’s Formula One program, TMG employed 1000 staff, but today they are at around 250. “We have incredible facilities and lots of desks to fill,” Kinoshita added.
The 2015 test drivers are the experienced Stephane Sarrazin, along with Sebastian Lindholm and Eric Camilli. Camilli will also see seat time in Ford Fiesta R5 vehicle in selected events so driver and team can gain on-event experience, according to Kinoshita. He added that drivers for the 2017 championship season are yet to be decided.
Toyota motorsport brand Gazoo Racing also announced an on-going collaboration with multiple World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen, to develop Japanese drivers for the world rally stage.
Toyota returns to a motorsport arena in which it has great heritage, winning four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ championships during the 1990s. It last competed with the Corolla World Rally Car in 1999. Toyota has 43 total WRC victories at the highest level.
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