Toyota is another step closer to making their much anticipated return to the WRC ranks with the completion of a successful gravel test yesterday in Italy. Toyota president Akio Toyoda, a fervent supporter of motorsport, told media in January that he would like to see the company return to rallysport but did not give any indication when this might happen.
The vehicle Toyota has been working with is a Toyota Yaris R1A rally car which has had its 1.3L four banger replaced in favour of the company’s 1.6L “Global Race Engine” which in other platforms has been said to deliver 300 horsepower. Yesterday’s test saw drivers Sebastien Lindholm and Stephane Sarrazin put the tiny car through its paces on a stage called Riparbella, which is a historic stage of the San Remo rally.
WRC.com says that TMG, Toyota’s motorsport arm, has not homologated the Yaris which would indicate that the components being tested may actually be destined for a later car built to a rules package that is set to come into play in 2017.
Regardless of when Toyota actually does return, it will be nothing but a boost to the WRC as the brand simply ruled the sport in the Nineties.