Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
|Drivers:||Esapekka Lappi, Jari-Matti Latvala, Ott Tänak|
A new entrant to the championship in 2017, the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT represents the long-awaited WRC comeback for Toyota - a name synonymous with rallying success in the 1980s and 1990s.
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).
Toyotas return was confirmed in January 2015 by the company´s president, and passionate rally enthusiast, Akio Toyoda.
Toyota established a new team base in Finland, and put former world champion Tommi Mäkinen, in charge of developing a Yaris-based car ready for a competitive return in 2017.
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.
Latvala and Lappi will be joined by Ott Tänak in 2018, Toyota snapping up the Estonian from M-Sport after two victories in 2017.