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Toyota gears up for low-cost rallying
Toyota is gearing up for a WRC comeback – with the Yaris. The Japanese giant’s motorsport arm, Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) has developed an entry-level Yaris R1A, designed as a low-cost way for privateers to go rallying.
TMG expects the Yaris R1A will achieve FIA homologation by the end of this year, which will make it eligible for regional, national and international rally competitions – and in theory, full blown WRC events.
The WRC’s R1A regulations mean only minor mechanical modifications are permitted, so the rally-ready Yaris gets the road car’s 97bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine. The addition of a racing exhaust system, shorter final drive and adjustable motorsport suspension are the main upgrades – along with the obligatory sump guards, roll-cage and assorted safety gubbins required to go rallying.
Rallying is something Toyota’s Cologne-based motorsport offshoot has significant past form with – having notched up several world rally titles during the ‘90s with the likes of Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankunnen at the wheel of works Celica GT-Fours. TMG later bowed out of WRC in 1999 to concentrate on Formula 1.
TMG stresses the 97bhp Yaris won’t be a contender to win overall events, instead pitching it as a cheap and cheerful way for newcomers to get into rallying. The Yaris R1A makes its official debut at the ninth round of the WRC in Germany later this month.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, TMG President said:
“It is a great thrill for TMG to return to rallying, a discipline in which we enjoyed a great deal of success in the past.
“The TMG Yaris R1A is a completely different project compared to our WRC past; it is an affordable but exciting car which makes rallying’s major events accessible to a whole range of participants. We have already received numerous inquiries about this car so we know there is a huge appetite in the rally world for a new Toyota; I hope this is the start of a new rally dynasty at TMG.”
In the context of WRC mega-budgets, the Yaris R1A has very reasonable price tag of 22,500 Euros, which includes the donor car and upgrade kit – but not installation and taxes.
Tantalisingly, TMG is also readying the brilliant GT86 for privateer motorsport applications – with more news promised soon.
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