The future of the World Rally Championship just got brighter as Toyota announced it will enter the 2017 season with the Yaris WRC, challenging Volkswagen on two fronts in motorsport.
The car is being developed and built by Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Germany and was tested already by several drivers including Frenchman Eric Camilli, the first member of Toyota's junior driver development scheme, Stéphane Sarrazin, winner of last year's Tour de Corse and a racer in Toyota's FIA World Endurance Championship team and Sebastian Lindholm, eight-times Finnish Rally Champion (and cousin of Marcus Grönholm).
The Yaris WRC's debut in 2017 will come 18 years after Toyota left the World Rally Championship with four drivers' and three manufacturers' world championships under its belt. 1999 marked the end of more than 25 years' continuous rally activity at TMG, which began life as Andersson Motorsport, named after the company's founder, the late Ove Andersson, and which competed in the WRC as Toyota Team Europe.
They won 43 times with the Celica Twin-cam Turbo and GT-Four and the Corolla WRC, with such legends behind the wheel as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.
Running against Volkswagen, Citroën, Ford and Hyundai in WRC while also trying to beat Audi and Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship sure sounds like a challenge, but TMG says they have the "expertise and determination to succeed", while the support they get from Toyota's President Akio Toyoda "is already very encouraging".
As for the Yaris WRC, the specs are the usual. A 1.6 direct-injection turbo four redlining at 8,500rpm, around 300 hp and 310 foot pounds of torque at 6,000rpm with a max pressure of 2.5 bar and a 33mm air restrictor, a six-speed sequential box, monster brakes and Michelin rubber.
It's also shorter than four meters.
All I want now is a few more amazing RGT cars, and WRC shall be awesome again!