Toyota to return to the WRC in 2017
Who doesn’t have fond memories of Castrol-liveried Celicas and Corolla WRC’s powersliding their way to glory in far-flung rallies around the globe?
Toyota president Akio Toyoda has today announced the company will return to the World Rally Championship frontline in 2017 with a new car based on the Yaris. No word on Castrol stickers just yet.
The addition of another works team is a welcome shot in the arm for the WRC, which is currently a Citroen versus VW affair with the fledgling Hyundai team playing a supporting role.
Transformation of the Yaris from humble shopping trolley to special stage hero is being handled by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne. Of course, as with all WRC cars there’ll be very little actual Yaris content in the final car barring certain elements of the bodyshell and basic architecture.
Power comes from a 1.6-litre turbo built to WRC regs, packing in excess of 300bhp and 310lb ft and testing on tarmac and gravel is already underway in Europe – check out the video at the foot of the page to see the prototype Yaris WRC in action, with none other than Akio Toyota himself taking a turn behind the wheel.
Toyota last won the WRC constructors’ title in 1999 and came within metres of winning the driver’s championship in 1998 when Carlos Sainz’s Corolla WRC ground to halt almost in sight of the finish line on the final stage of the year.
The Japanese firm’s keeping plenty busy with motorsport activities at the moment, with an ongoing World Endurance and Le Mans programme and a factory Lexus team in Japan’s Super GT series among various other projects.