Thursday | 02 Apr 2015

Toyota back on the WRC title trail

Toyota hopes to add to its tally of seven FIA WRC titles ‘as soon as possible’ after its championship return in 2017 - and is targeting a rally win in its first season.

Toyota recently confirmed that after a break of almost two decades it would return to the WRC with an all-new Yaris World Rally Car run from its motorsport base in Germany.

Toyota Motorsport’s vice president Rob Leupen told that the team wanted to hit the ground running in 2017. “We want to be a title contender as soon as possible - as a motorsport organisation this is what your aim is,” he said.

But we have a lot of respect, especially for Volkswagen, at the present moment. I think if we are on a podium and with a win in 2017 that would be a good achievement. After a year of experience we should become a bit more serious with our aspirations and we should give all the others a hard life and be fighting for the championship.

“I think it would be pretentious to say we will win the title in 2017, or even that we would be a serious title contender. I would like to be much more modest there and see how we develop. Should we be that good then of course we would go for it, but it is not what I expect today,” he added.

Development of the Yaris World Rally Car began in 2014 and will accelerate this year with a packed test programme. This week Toyota announced that Teemu Suninen would join Eric Camilli in its junior driver development squad, working alongside other test drivers Stéphane Sarrazin and Sebastian Lindholm. The team structure is also taking shape, at the same Cologne base that houses Toyota’s World Endurance Championship outfit. 

Since we started on the project we have put all the vital functions in place and already have the structure pretty well set-up,” said Leupen. “We have an operational team focussed for now mainly on the technical side of car development, engine and chassis. Emanuele Battisti is the project manager in charge of the technical side.”

Wherever possible Toyota Motorsport will try to make use of synergies between its WRC and WEC programmes. “In some areas you have to have fully dedicated teams - after all, there might be a situation where a WEC race is taking place at the same time as a WRC rally,” Leupen explained. “But we also have crossovers and co-operations between different departments - on projects like engineering and engine development. We will run in an efficient way and expect to use the best resources from both sides.”

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