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Toyota Confirms Return to WRC in 2017

Toyota is set to return to World Rally Championship in 2017, aiming at a debut win just like Volkswagen.

 

Just a few weeks ago, the Japanese company’s global boss Akio Toyoda confirmed its return to WRC at a press conference. Actually, Toyota participated in WRC from 1973 to 1999, during which it created great miracles, winning 43 events with its Corolla and Celica and clinching four constructors’ world championship titles.

 

And this time, Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), who manages Toyota’s WEC sports car program, will spend the next two years developing the Yaris WRC for its 2017 debut. Though the forthcoming cars’ full specifications have not been released, we have already known that the car will be slightly shorter and wider than the consumer production version Yaris, featuring a 4-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine producing 300 horsepower. Also, it is said that the car has undergone a preliminary test program on tar and gravel stages across Europe.

 

TMG president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said: “It is a great honor 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 programs simultaneously is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed.”

 

When asked about whether emulating Volkswagen’s performance is Toyota’s goal, Kinoshita said: “For sure, or even more.”

 

Nevertheless, Toyota has a different driver plan from the German manufacturer. It does not intend to buy famous drivers from other teams. Instead, it chooses to stick with a youth development driver program.

 

Kinoshita said: “We are looking forward to taking the next steps with an extensive development plan and a junior driver development program.

 

“We will pick up some young talent and do the testing with them and then stepping up with them in two years ... I think that is the proper way, not buying the good driver with big money.

 

“We want to grow up together to win the championship.”

 

The 27-year-old French driver Alex Camilli will occupy the seat in one Yaris in 2017, while another youthful driver will be in the other car. As for the third entry, it intends to be reserved for a young but talented Japanese driver, though the president admitted that it was difficult to find and nurture one in just two years.

 

Kinoshita said: “Only two years, so very tough for Japanese drivers. But we hope like Kazuki Nakajima in the WEC. Without a Japanese driver this is not so easy to do some activities in Japan. To catch eyes.”

 

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