Toyota confirms WRC return in 2017
Yaris World Rally Car to front WRC challenge
That 1999 season marked the end of over 25 years continuous rally activity at Toyota’s Cologne-based motorsport base, Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), which began life as Andersson Motorsport, named after company founder Ove Andersson, and competed in WRC as Toyota Team Europe (TTE).
During that time, 43 wins were achieved with iconic cars like the Celica Twincam Turbo and GT-Four variants and the Corolla WRC along with star drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.
Much of Toyota successes came in the 1990’s, during which it won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championships. It was also synonymous with dominance of the African Safari Rally in the eighties.
But there were lows too, most notably disqualification from the 1995 season and a ban for 12 months for running an illegal turbo system that gave its cars more power.
Here are key facts about Toyota’s WRC history so far:
1973: Walter Boyce secures Toyota’s first victory, driving an Andersson Motorsport-prepared Corolla on the Press On Regardless Rally in the USA.
1975: TTE’s first victory comes at Finland’s 1000 Lakes Rally with future champion Hannu Mikkola driving a Corolla Levin.
1984: First win on the Safari Rally of Kenya with Björn Waldegard driving a Celica Twincam Turbo. It is the first of a hat-trick of Safari wins for Toyota and drivers Waldegard and Juha Kankkunen between 1984 and 1986.
1988: Introduction of the 4WD Celica GT Four, which would go on to win 29 WRC rallies and six World Championships titles (two Manufacturers’ and four Drivers’) in its ST165, ST185 and ST205 guises.
1989: Manufacturers’ Championship runners up. Carlos Sainz makes his Toyota debut, taking three podiums from seven starts.
1990: Sainz becomes Toyota’s first Drivers’ World Champion at the wheel of a Celica GT-Four (ST165). Toyota is runner-up in the Manufacturers’ contest.
1992: Sainz takes his second Drivers’ title driving a Celica GT-Four ST185. Toyota is again runner-up in the Manufacturers’ contest.
1993: With seven victories, Toyota becomes the first Japanese firm to win the WRC Manufacturers’ title. Kankkunen adds the Drivers’ crown.
1994: Toyota wins the Manufacturers’ title again, with Didier Auriol taking the Drivers’ crown. TTE is renamed Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) after Toyota Motor Corporation takes ownership.
1995: Third in Manufacturers’ Championship but later disqualified. Banned for 12 months for fitting an illegal system that unlocked engine power by allowing air to bypass the air restrictor on the turbo. "It's the most ingenious thing I have seen in 30 years of motorsport,” admitted FIA President Max Mosley.
1996/7: Maintains a presence in the WRC by supporting private teams.
1998: Returns to the WRC with the Celica’s replacement, the Corolla World Rally Car and driver line-up of Sainz and Auriol. Second in both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships.
1999: Manufacturers’ Champions for the third time. Announces withdrawal from the WRC to prepare for a switch to Formula One in 2002.
2015: Announces it will return to the WRC in 2017 with a Yaris World Rally Car.