It has been nearly 30 years since the sport of rally abandoned rear-wheel drive cars.
When four-wheel drive started to become dominant, manufacturers quickly moved away from RWD in order to keep up with the competition and even beyond the top level the trend was for four- and front-wheel drive cars.
No rear-wheel drive car has been homologated for international competition this century - until now. The Toyota GT86 CS-R3 is the first new RWD car to meet the FIA's conditions for international rally competition in almost 20 years, and it qualifies for the WRC3 class of the World Rally Championship.
Toyota has one of the longest and most decorated histories in top-tier rallying of any manufacturer. With the Celica, Toyota won back-to-back WRC titles in 1993 and 1994, taking the 1999 title with the Corolla. Toyota's drivers won four WRC titles too, with Carlos Sainz in 1990 and 1992, followed by Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol in 1993 and 1994. The last rear-wheel drive Toyota rally car - the Celica Twin-cam Turbo won three successive Safari Rally events from 1984-1986.
With 43 event wins, Toyota is the 6th most successful manufacturer in WRC history, and the Celica is the 4th most successful car with 37 event wins - so the GT86 CS-R3 has a lot to live up to.
In order to meet R3 category requirements, the GT86's two-litre boxer engine has had to be reworked to the technical limitations imposed. Nevertheless, power has been increased to 232hp. It's matched to a six-speed sequential gearbox with a limited slip rear differential.
There's been a weight-loss programme too, so the car meets the WRC3 class minimum weight standard of 1080kg. This is despite the upgraded suspension, brakes and exhaust and the standard roll cage.
The new car is designed for private customers, but Toyota Motorsport will demonstrate the CS-R3 on selected events this year, ahead of the inaugural season of the HJS R3 Trophy, a competition that forms part of the German Rally Championship programme for 2016.