Tuesday | 13 Dec 2016

Toyoda tribute to team legends

Toyota president Akio Toyoda paid tribute to team greats during the Japanese manufacturer’s launch of its 2017 WRC squad in Helsinki on Tuesday afternoon.

Toyoda, who masterminded the company’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, recalled the success of former champions as Toyota won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ titles before leaving the sport in 1999.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to express my respect for everyone who created a strong bond between rally and Toyota and etched that bond into people’s memory,” said Toyoda, who is also chairman of Toyota Gazoo Racing.

“They include the late Ove Andersson, who launched Toyota’s team in the 1970s and led since then, the late Björn Waldegård who catapulted Toyota to fame in WRC in the 1980s, and Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol who captured drivers’ championships for Toyota in the 1990s.”

Rumours of a possible Toyota return first surfaced when Toyoda attended Finland’s WRC fixture in 2014 and he recalled that trip with delight.

Jarri-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen and Esapekka Lappi with team principal Tommi Mäkinen

“When I attended the WRC in Finland in July 2014 as a spectator, many fans asked when Toyota would be returning to the rally.

“I was extremely surprised and delighted that even after more than 10 years, many people remembered that once Toyota competed in WRC,” he said.

Toyoda drove the Yaris WRC recently, accompanied by team principal Tommi Mäkinen, and the experience convinced him the team is ready for its debut at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January).

“Perceiving the car’s sound and smell, the feel of the steering wheel and pedals, and, more than anything else, the look on Tommi’s face, I was able to share with him a feeling of confidence in our ability to compete with this car.

“We will be doing our very best throughout this final month, right up until the WRC begins, so that we can as quickly as possible assure long-time fans that Toyota is back as the king of this kind of event and put smiles on old and new fans’ faces by affirming their choice to support our team,” added Toyoda.

Toyota Yaris WRC Technical Specification
Engine4-cylinder, 1600cc turbo, direct injection
Bore / Stroke83.8mm / 72.5mm
Gearbox6-speed hydraulic shift
Drive4-wheel drive, active centre and mechanical front and rear differentials
ClutchDouble plate
SteeringHydraulic rack and pinion
Brakes300mm gravel / 370mm asphalt
Top speed201kph

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