Just a few short years ago, the World Rally Championship (WRC) was in crisis after both Mitsubishi and Subaru left the sport in quick succession. However, since then, newcomers Mini and Volkswagen have confirmed they’ll compete in the WRC in the next few years and if reports are to be believed, yet another historic racing manufacturer may make a return.
Toyota originally competed in the WRC from 1973 to 1999 and wrapped up three WRC titles and came home with 43 victories. A good enough record to warrant staying in the sport, you say? Well, it is a fairly illustrious record, but Toyota left WRC to instead focus on Formula One and we all know how that turned out. Not very well.
The Toyota Celica WRC rally car was one of the most recognizable cars Toyota entered into the sport, but despite the GT 86 and Scion FR-S recently being launched by the brand, Toyota has confirmed that neither will enter the WRC.
While discussing the topic, a Toyota spokesman said, “We’re leaning towards an S2000-style of car which would be available for customers first. This is a development project, but it’s very early days—the engine only fired up for the first time a few weeks ago. At the very earliest, a car won’t be available until next year. Obviously, this being a Global Race Engine, it could go in any car, but the Yaris seems to make sense.”
The Yaris may not seem like the obvious choice, but look at it this way; it’s a lightweight city car with an extremely short wheelbase, the ideal combination for rallying. And with the original Mini Cooper having such a successful WRC career with those same ingredients, Toyota could be on to a winner here.
At this stage, it’s very unlikely that we will see the Yaris competing in the WRC until 2014 or beyond, but either way, we’re still excited to see how having five manufacturers will spice up the sport.
gallery: Toyota Yaris