For the last nine months, Team Gazoo – Toyota’s racing arm – has been hard at work with two development Yaris WRC rally cars. Team principal and four-time WRC champ Tommi Mäkinen and his crew has clocked up more than 3,000 miles over every type of terrain to try and iron out any problems and issues before its re-entry into the WRC in 2017.
The first car has been working out of the team’s base in Puuppola, Finland to focus on engine and transmission development. Meanwhile, the second car has been in Spain and Portugal, to smooth out the suspension.
“We haven’t started testing on Tarmac,” Tom Fowler, the team’s WRC Chief Engineer, said. “But we can already tell that the car’s performance levels are really high.”
Toyota’s return to the WRC will coincide with some new regulations in the World Rally Championship. The new rules provide teams the opportunity to increase power and also make changes to the aero of the cars.
This means the front bumper overhang can be increased by up to 60mm, they can be 55mm wider with more aero ahead of the front wheels, while the rear can be increased by 30mm. The door sills will be bigger. The cars will be 25kg lighter. The rear diffuser will be bound by some size limits, but can stick out up to 50mm at the back.
The racers will use the same 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines as current regulations require, which, thanks to an increase in the turbo restrictor width from 33mm to 36mm, should see power rise to around 380bhp – “up to the level of the FIA WTCC cars.”