Toyota has announced it will rejoin the FIA World Rally Championship after a 17-year hiatus. The Japanese giant is hoping its WRC Yaris, which will make its competitive debut in 2017, can carry on the legacy left by cars like the legendary Celica GT-Four that helped Toyota to four WRC manufacturers’ titles in the 1990s.
Powered by a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, the Yaris WRC will produce around 300 hp (224 kW) and 420 Nm of torque, with turbo pressure running at a maximum of 2.5 bar. This power will be transferred to world’s rally stages through a six-speed sequential gearbox and ZF Sachs clutch, while the Yaris will run on different wheels depending on the road surface – 7x17 inches on gravel stages and 8x18 inches on tarmac.
The Yaris’ Michelins aren’t the only thing to change when the surface switches from tarmac to gravel: when the car is set up for tarmac, the brake discs are 55mm bigger than the 300mm units used on gravel stages.
Toyota is under no illusions about the challenges they will face in the World Rally Championship; especially considering Toyota Motorsport GmBH also competes in the World Endurance Championship.
According to team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Toyota’s motorsports division has the “expertise and determination to succeed” in WRC despite running two works motorsport programs.
"We are looking forward to taking the next steps with an extensive development plan and junior driver development program”, he added. "It is an exciting time and we are looking forward to this new challenge with great anticipation."
Although it will not start in the WRC until 2017, the Yaris WRC has already completed preliminary tests on both gravel and tarmac at the hands of a number of young drivers. This testing will help Toyota tune the car for its debut season, in a year that is expected to bring updated FIA technical regulations for the WRC.