Toyota has announced that Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) will return to FIA World Rally Championship in 2017 after a long hiatus of 18 years with a car developed and built entirely at its technical centre in Cologne. The company will continue the test the car, a Yaris WRC, over the next two years. TMG has won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ world championships in the 1990s. The news was announced by Toyota Motor Corporation President Mr. Akio Toyoda, at a news conference where the Yaris WRC made its public debut, in its new launch livery.
The Yaris WRC features a 1.6-litre turbocharged, direct injection engine that produces 300 hp and 420 Nm of torque. The car has already completed a preliminary test programme on Tarmac and gravel stages across Europe and with the official WRC programme confirmed, development will be expanded and the dedicated team of specialists to engineer and run the car will be increased. Many 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 to nurture the Toyota rally stars of the future.
Camilli will carry out the development programme alongside Stéphane Sarrazin, winner of last year’s Tour de Corse and a racer in Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and Sebastian Lindholm. The programme will include several European WRC venues, with different surfaces. The experience gained will help Toyota’s preparation of the car for the 2017 season, when updated championship regulations are expected to be introduced. The Yaris WRC follows an illustrious line of Toyota WRC cars and its 2017 debut will come 18 years after Toyota’s final WRC rally, in 1999.
Yoshiaki Kinshita, TMG President, said: “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.”
He also added, “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.”
Source : CarDekho