A full 18 years after Toyota discontinued its participation in the WRC, the Japanese automaker is looking to make a comeback with this battle-ready Yaris. Plans are currently set to see the pumped-up subcompact make its competition debut in 2017, with development now proceeding under the guidance of Cologne-based motor racing team Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG). Previously known as Toyota Team Europe, TMG is responsible for garnering each of the marque’s titles in this highest form of rally racing.

The last time a Toyota was seen scrambling for traction on a stage of the World Rally Championship was in 1999, with the Corolla WRC. That particular vehicle represented the carmaker’s final entry in the sport after more than 25 years of continuous rally competition, excluding a one-year ban in 1995 following the discovery of illegal turbo restrictors. Despite this singular blemish, Toyota’s overall record is good, including three manufacturer’s titles and four driver’s titles, thanks in no small part to the venerable TMG-prepped Celica GT-Four.

An assortment of drivers and engineers are currently joining the team ranks to prepare for 2017. But will Toyota keep pace after an absence of nearly two decades?

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Yaris WRC.

  • 2015 Toyota Yaris WRC
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    Six-speed sequential
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    300
  • Torque @ RPM:
    309
  • Displacement:
    1.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 614653

To prepare the Yaris for some of the harshest conditions in all of modern motorsports, Toyota is going full hog. According to a press release, the “chassis has been formed using advanced simulation, testing and production techniques.” Overall, the dimensions are similar to the production road-going Yaris, but include a shortened wheelbase for crisper turn-in. The fenders are flared-out to encompass a bigger wheel and tire package, yielding a wider track for enhanced grip.

Keeping the shiny side up are Michelin tires, which is unsurprising given the fact that all but one of the current WRC competitors use that brand. These are mounted to wheels that measure 7 inches wide by 17-inches tall for gravel, and 8 inches wide by 18 inches tall for tarmac.

The body is made up of typical badass WRC components, with composite panels, large heat vents in the hood, a roof-mounted scoop to provide the cabin with fresh air, and downforce-generators consisting of a reworked front bumper and a large rear spoiler on the hatch.

The livery is a new design, perhaps created as an acknowledgement of the car’s “clean slate” philosophy. Overall, the package bears all the right elements of something you’d see pounding over the mountains of Monte Carlo or flying through the Italian air at Sardegna. 

Interior

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 614655

All business, no nonsense: that’s the formula for the interior of a WRC car. Steel bars crisscross throughout to keep passengers protected in the inevitable rollover, with racing harnesses strapping all those precious limbs into fixed bucket racing seats. A thin-rimmed steering wheel protrudes from the carbon-fiber dash, with two large levers in place for cracking up and down through the cogs and locking the rear wheels. Data pours in from digital readouts, buttons and switches pop from every crevice, and a fire extinguisher system is readily at-hand. Just another day at the office for a pro rally pilot.

Drivetrain

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC Drivetrain
- image 614652

Transformed from high-efficiency commuter to fire-breathing world eater, the Yaris WRC is equipped with a turbocharged, direct injection, 1.6-liter four-banger that spits out well over 300 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm. Maximum boost pressure is 2.5 bar (36.3 psi), while redline is set at 8,500 rpm.

As with all successful rally cars, the development of this powerplant involved a focus on torque figures. Powering out of a slide calls for a lot of low-end muscle, and during competition, wandering through the gears to find that power-band sweet spot is, at best, distracting. With that in mind, engineers focused on creating a torque curve that was as broad and flat as possible, a task hampered by the 33 mm (1.3-inch) air restrictor called for by regulations.

Making the AWD connection is a six-speed sequential gearbox and ZF Sachs clutch. Dropping the anchor are 300 mm (11.8-inch) disc brakes for gravel duty, and 355 mm (14-inch) rotors for tarmac. The size difference is reflective of the different wheels in play for each surface type.

While this purpose-built competitor may have similar body lines to the vehicles available for a test drive at your local dealership, the hard bits under the skin are as dissimilar as water and oil. But who knows — given the extensive amount of development time and money poured into the Yaris WRC, perhaps we’ll see a boosted AWD variant for the public sometime in the near future.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine type Four-cylinder in-line
Capacity 1.6-liter
Direct injection pressure Up to 200bar
Fuel Petrol
Max. turbo pressure 2.5bar
Air restrictor 33 mm
Max. power 300 HP @ 6,000 RPM (approx..)
Max. torque 309 LB-FT
Max. revs 8,500
Transmission Six-speed sequential
Clutch ZF Sachs

Competition

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2015 Volkswagen Polo R WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 611777

In the hands of the current world-champion, Sébastien Ogier, this Polo looks pretty much unstoppable. Coming off back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, the first rally of 2015 ended in a complete VW podium lockout, with the Frenchman once again standing in that coveted first-place position.

The Polo R WRC first hit a WRC stage in 2013, promptly putting an end to Citroen’s five-year championship run. Like the Yaris, a 1.6-liter turbo engine with over 300 horsepower is used for motivation. Mated to this is a brand-new, hydraulically activated, six-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox, which enables a standing start to 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds.

Given the car’s current pace, this looks like the one to beat, even when projecting two years down the line. However, the 2015 season has just begun, which means there will be plenty of opportunities to upset the current pecking order.

Hyundai i20 WRC

2014 Hyundai i20 WRC High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 495598

Debuting a brand-new car after 10 years out of the game, Hyundai launched the i20 WRC last year. With Belgium’s Thierry Neuville at the wheel, the pace was there, as was evident by a win at the tarmac-heavy Rallye Deutschland in the ninth round. Unfortunately, consistency was lacking, as Neuville could only manage sixth place overall at the season’s end.

However, that hasn’t stopped Hyundai from fielding four cars for 2015. Neuville finished fifth at Monte Carlo last month, giving him 10 vital points going into the second round. You can be sure that the teams will work on developing consistency to pair with the outright speed as the season progresses.

Citroen DS3 WRC

2011 Citroen DS3 WRC High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 376365

Citroen has a long history of rally racing with the DS, stretching all the way back to the late 50s with the original DS19. Nowadays, the French automaker is in the hunt with its DS3 WRC, which saw competition for the first time in 2011. Two of Sébastien Loeb’s nine consecutive WRC championship titles were in this car, with 2011 and 2012 representing the final years of the Frenchman’s run.

However, 2015 pulled Loeb out of retirement and once again saw him behind the wheel of a DS3 racer at Monte Carlo, (just for "fun", he said), and despite crashing out on the second day, even Sébastien Ogier couldn’t match his overall speed. For all intents and purposes, it appears as though a Citroen in the hands of Loeb is the only way VW can be stopped in its march to yet another world title.

Conclusion

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 614657

TMG hopes to develop the Yaris WRC over the next two years, betting that the change in regulations expected for 2017 won’t significantly alter all the hard work currently underway. Even though two years is a long time, there’s still a lot required to make this new entrant competitive. Add the pressure of running a full season of the World Endurance Championship, and it’s obvious the team will be stretched to the ragged limit.

However, the Yaris WRC has already completed testing on both tarmac and gravel stages throughout Europe. Driver selection includes an assortment of young talent, including Eric Camilli, Stéphane Sarrazin, and Sebastian Lindholm (you gotta have at least one “Seb,” right?).

In the meantime, you can bet all eyes will be on the Polo R of Sébastien Ogier. Make sure to check TopSpeed for updates on each of this year’s 13 rounds.

  • Leave it
    • Unproven platform
    • 2017 a long way out
    • VW will be no pushover, even in two years time

Press Release

Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2017 with a car developed and built entirely at its technical centre in Cologne.

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 614650

Over the next two years TMG will continue its test programme with the Yaris WRC in preparation for a return to the series in which it won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ world championships in the 1990s.

The news was announced today by Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation President, at a news conference where the Yaris WRC made its public debut, in its new launch livery.

The Yaris WRC has already completed a preliminary test programme on Tarmac and gravel stages across Europe, establishing a promising baseline on which to build over the coming months.

The car features a 1.6-litre turbocharged, direct injection engine producing more than 300bhp. Its chassis has been formed using advanced simulation, testing and production techniques.

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 614651

Now that an official WRC programme has been confirmed, development will be expanded and the dedicated team of specialists to engineer and run the car will be increased.

Several young drivers have already tested the car and Frenchman Eric Camilli, 27, has been selected as the first member of a junior driver development scheme, designed to nurture the Toyota rally stars of the future.

Camilli will carry out the development programme alongside Stéphane Sarrazin, winner of last year’s Tour de Corse and a racer in Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and Sebastian Lindholm.

The programme will include several European WRC venues, with different surfaces. The experience gained will help Toyota’s preparation of the car for the 2017 season, when updated championship regulations are expected to be introduced.

The Yaris WRC follows an illustrious line of Toyota WRC cars and its 2017 debut will come 18 years after Toyota’s final WRC rally, in 1999.

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC Drivetrain
- image 614652

That season 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.

During that time the team achieved 43 wins, with celebrated cars such as the Celica Twin-cam Turbo and GT-Four and the Corolla WRC. The line-up of legendary drivers included Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.

Yoshiaki Kinshita, TMG President, said: “It is a great honour to be asked to bring the Toyota name back to the World Rally Championship alongside our continued participation in the World Endurance Championship.

“To run two works motorsport programmes simultaneously is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed. There is much to do as we make the journey back to WRC but to have received the support of Toyota Motor Corporation and our President Akio Toyoda is already very encouraging.

2015 Toyota Yaris WRC High Resolution Exterior
- image 614653

“We are looking forward to taking the next steps with an extensive development plan and a junior driver development programme. It is an exciting time and we are looking forward to this new challenge with great anticipation.”

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