Monday | 30 Mar 2015

Toyota ‘flat-out’ on Yaris WRC development

Toyota Motorsport is testing its all-new Yaris World Rally Car ‘flat-out’ and has revealed it might enter the vehicle in rallies before its World Championship debut in 2017.

The German-based team conducted eight tests with the Yaris in 2014 but has upped that to 12 this year, and has begun work on an extra car since the WRC programme was given the green light two months ago.

“Most of the testing will be in Europe, but one or two will be overseas,” Toyota Motorsport’s vice president Rob Leupen told “Our next test is at the end of April and the focus is on engine and suspension development. We currently have two cars, which we are using as much as possible. A third is nearing completion.

"As well as the tests, we have extensive facilities and rigs in-house which we can use, so we are flat-out using all options and all possibilities.”

Leupen revealed that feedback from Toyota’s trio of test drivers, World Endurance Championship racer Stéphane Sarrazin, multiple Finnish champion Sebastian Lindholm and French rising star Eric Camilli, was encouraging. “We are quite content with their responses and are happy with what we are achieving. Of course you would always like do more, but for the present moment we are on schedule,” he said.

Leupen: "We are happy with what we are achieving"

Leupen added that while the team is not due to return to the WRC for another 21 months, the car might make its competitive debut earlier: “I cannot confirm anything, but it might be that we would like to enter our WRC Yaris in some different series, at lower levels. We will find out.”

There will be no significant changes to the Yaris road car between now and 2017, so the World Rally Car will be based on the existing model - but built to FIA technical regulations that are yet to be agreed. Leuben however, does not expect the rule changes will radically alter the package.

“I think it will be more an evolution of what we have now,” he said. “We know what is available in the market today for technical development, and I think the focus will be on the suspension and the engine side. I understand that there is some discussion about the size of the [turbo] restrictor. Based on current regulations, I think it will be more of a step-by-step change for 2017 – not something completely revolutionary.”

Video: Toyota’s Sweden test.
In early March, Sebastian Lindholm and Eric Camilli tested the Yaris WRC for the first time on snow. 

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