Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) will return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017 with an all-new car developed and built entirely at its Cologne technical centre.
Over the next two years TMG will continue its test programme with the Yaris WRC car to prepare for a full return to the series in which it won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championships in the 1990s.
The announcement was made by Toyota Motor Corporation president, Akio Toyoda at a news conference in Tokyo, where the Yaris WRC made its public debut, complete with new launch livery.
The Yaris WRC has already completed a preliminary test programme on tarmac and gravel stages throughout Europe, an with an official WRC programme now confirmed, development will be expanded while the dedicated team of specialists to engineer and operate the car will also be increased.
Several 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 with the goal of developing Toyota rally stars of the future.
Camilli will carry out the development programme alongside last year’s Tour de Corse winner Stéphane Sarrazin, also a racer in Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and Sebastian Lindholm.
That test programme will include several WRC venues around Europe on a variety of surfaces. Experience gained will assist Toyota as it prepares a car for the 2017 season, when updated technical regulations are expected to be introduced.
“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,” explained TMG president, Yoshiaki Kinoshita. “To run two works motorsport programmes simultaneously is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed. 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.”