Toyota is fielding a car in the 2017 World Rally Championship, but the glory of victory isn’t the primary reason.
Toyota wants to use the lessons learned during each WRC race to help with development of future cars.
“For Toyota to make ever-better cars, we have to get a feel for all the kinds of roads that are out there,” said Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda. “Rallying requires us to drive on the very roads our customers use every single day, and I believe it is the perfect training activity, ultimately helping us to strengthen our products.”
Toyota has enlisted Tommi Mäkinen, a WRC veteran, to act as the team principal and help with development of the car. After helping to coach Toyoda in the ways of WRC racing, the Chairman decided it would be a good idea to bring Mäkinen on board. “Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us,” said Toyoda. “I want to work with him; I want him to help us make better cars.”
Toyota will be entering a rally-prepped Yaris that uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, cranking out more than 300 hp.
The brand’s WRC effort has already had an effect on Toyota’s road cars, as at least 2,500 rally-spec versions of the Yaris must be sold to public to meet FIA homologation regulations. The small hot hatch will make less power than the race version, using a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine to make around 230 hp. It will feature large wheel arches, a large rear spoiler and a full aerodynamic makeover.
“I have huge respect for the manufacturers, drivers, team members, and fans that make this wonderful competition what it is, and I’m thrilled to bring Toyota back to WRC,” said Toyoda.