Toyota returns to World Rally Championship

Motorsport
Toyota-Yaris-WRC

The gap left by the withdrawal of Volkswagen from the World Rally Championship (WRC) is to be filled by Toyota.

The Japanese manufacturer has unveiled the new Toyota Yaris WRC car that it will campaign in the 2017 championship under the Toyota Gazoo Racing banner, 17 years after the brand last entered a team in the series.

Powered by a 1.6-litre direct injection petrol engine putting out 380hp, the Toyota Yaris WRC is typical of the new generation of cars built to the latest WRC rules that include a great amount of freedom in aerodynamic design.

Team principal is four-time WRC champion Tommi Makinen, and he believes the car has great potential. “The new regulations allow for much greater freedom in terms of development,” Makinen says, adding; “Although we have yet to explore all the possibilities, we can say that the car is reliable and quick – I really can’t wait to see the results in racing conditions.”

Lead driver will be Jari-Matti Latvala with co-driver Miikka Anttila. Latvala has 16 WRC wins to his name and the pair have finished as WRC runners up three times.

The second car will be driven by Juho Hänninen alongside co-driver Kaj Lindström. Hänninen has been centrally involved in the development of the Yaris WRC from its first outing.

Toyota-Kazoo-Wrc-Launch

The return of Toyota will be a welcome boost to the WRC following the departure of Volkswagen.

According to Team Chairman Akio Toyoda competition competitions strengthen both cars and the people running them. “Toyota Gazoo Racing ‘hate’ to lose, and of course we do not want to lose in the WRC,” he says.

“The other day I had the chance to drive the Yaris WRC with Tommi (Mäkinen) and was able to share a feeling of confidence in our ability to compete with this car – Toyota is back!”

The 2017 WRC starts on 19th January at the Monte Carlo Rally.

Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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