Toyota enters the final development stage of their new WRC contender based on their Yaris supermini.
The Japanese automaker will make its official return to the rally stages in 2017, with Gazoo Racing WRC Team undertaking the first shakedown of the new Yaris WRC last May in Puuppola, Finland.
Since then, the Toyota Yaris WRC has completed over 5,000km of testing. “We have worked hard to be on time” said Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC. “We have completed a lot of test sessions since May, and we have stuck to our schedule. The addition of a second car helped us to up the pace and diversify the development testing. We want to test the vehicle in all conditions and on all surfaces so that we are ready for 2017.”
The team will add a second car to the development program in order to accelerate the process and make sure that the new Yaris WRC will have the speed to make a run at the title.
“The reason we are working with two cars is that, we wanted to split development into two parts. The first team works only in Finland, concentrating on the reliability and endurance of the car, with a test program focused on the engine and gearbox. The second test team is focused on the suspension, and is working at the other European bases, such as in Spain and Portugal,” explained Tom Fowler, WRC Chief Engineer.
So far the driver line-up includes Tommi Mäkinen, Juho Hanninen and Jarkko Nikara. “I just couldn’t resist, so I was the first to size up the car!” said Tommi Mäkinen. “The feeling was great and it was fun to drive as well. We are also lucky to be able to call upon the experience of Juho Haninnen and Jarkko Nikara. Other drivers are expected to join the development team very shortly,” he mentioned.
The new Toyota Yaris rally car is expected to fight for the 2017 WRC title against the likes of the VW Polo, the Ford Fiesta and the Citroen C3.