The Japanese brand can trace its rally roots back to 1957 when it entered the Mobilgas Round Australia Rally. But it was 1975 when Toyota really made its mark, when Hannu Mikkola won Finland’s 1000 Lakes Rally at the wheel of a factory-backed Corolla.
Toyota established a motorsport base in Cologne, Germany, and went on to claim more WRC victories, including three consecutive Safari Rally wins.
In 1990, Toyota had its first WRC champion driver in Carlos Sainz, and in 1993 it became the first Japanese brand to win the WRC manufacturers’ title.
By the end of its factory-backed activities in 1999, Toyota had collected three manufacturers’ titles, (in 1993, 1994 and 1999) and four drivers’ titles (two for Sainz and one each for Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol).
Toyota’s return was confirmed in January 2015 by the company’s president, and passionate rally enthusiast, Akio Toyoda. A team base was established in Finland and Toyoda put former world champion Tommi Mäkinen in charge of developing a Yaris ready for a 2017 comeback.
The squad proved the surprise of the season. A sensational second place for Latvala at the opening Rallye Monte-Carlo could have been dismissed as a fluke – before he followed it with victory at the next round in Sweden. Esapekka Lappi added a third win at the fastest rally of them all, Neste Rally Finland.
The success continued as new signing Ott Tänak joined Latvala and Lappi and the trio lifted the manufacturers’ title in 2018. Twelve months later Tänak secured his maiden drivers’ crown.
The team had an all-new line-up in 2020, featuring Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and rookie Kalle Rovanperä. In a compelling season finale, Ogier overcame Evans to claim his seventh drivers’ title and Toyota has retained the same line-up for 2021.