Toyota’s re-emergence into the World Rally Championship has been kept quiet from the public but while rumours began circulating last year, work to produce the car started a lot earlier.
The development team put together for the project initially came together in 2012 – based at Toyota Motorsport Germany’s Cologne facility.
Formerly the home of Toyota Team Europe - the group behind Toyota’s 1990s era rally cars – the facility has been updated in order to handle Toyota’s Formula One programme.
Ex-F1 engine designer, Falk Schulkowski is the man behind the new powertrain for the car with performance targets for the 1.6-litre turbocharged four cylinder were set, the engine came into being by mid-2012.
“It’s a great feeling when you get to hear the baby cry for the first time…” said Falk, “But performance is really important. The engine needs to offer a wide power band, and good drivability.”
During this time, the car’s chassis began to be engineered with the first “road” tests beginning in 2013.
“I feel very proud that the Yaris WRC is being developed in my factory. Rally is in my blood”, Yoshiaki Kinoshita, TMG president
As we now race through 2015, the development programme is in full swing – this is a rally programme with no compare.
Evidence of Toyota’s racing pedigree festoon the walls of the workshops where the new Yaris rally cars are being built – no shortage of heritage to inspire the team working on the new car.
It’s not just the workshops with the racing history even the mechanics tool boxes are covering in stickers bearing the names of famous Toyota works drivers like Carlos Sainz and Didier Auriol.
It was Sainz who was amongst the first from the rallying community to welcome Toyota back to WRC, “I feel very proud that the Yaris WRC is being developed in my factory, I am a very big rally fan, and when I was 18 years old, I started my rally career as a driver. Rally is in my blood.”