Today Toyota announced its motorsports activities for 2015 during its annual Motorsports Press Conference in Japan. Highlights of the event were the announcement that Toyota will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2017 and confirmation of Toyota Racing’s driver line-up for the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
World Rally Championship (WRC)
Over the next two years Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) will continue its test programme with the Yaris WRC car to prepare for a full return to the series in 2017, when updated technical regulations are expected to be introduced.
The new Yaris WRC features a 1.6-litre turbo-charged, direct-injection engine, which produces over 300 hp, while its chassis has been shaped through advanced simulation, testing and production techniques.
Developed and built exclusively by TMG at its technical centre in Cologne, Germany, the car has already completed a preliminary test programme on tarmac and gravel stages throughout Europe, creating a promising foundation on which to build over the coming months.
Over the next two years, as the team moves closer to WRC participation, the car will undergo a full test programme consisting of several WRC venues around Europe on a variety of surfaces, its development slowly expanding with the dedicated team of specialists to engineer and operate the car also being increased.
Junior Development Programme
Alongside the honing and evolution of the Yaris WRC, TMG is also hoping to generate more stars behind the wheel with the launch of its Junior Development Programme.
The first beneficiary of the scheme is Frenchman Eric Camilli, 27, who has already tested the Yaris WRC. He will now carry out the development programme alongside experienced countryman Stéphane Sarrazin, also a racer in Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship team, and Sebastian Lindholm, a veteran Finnish driver.
A rich rallying heritage
When the Yaris WRC makes its competitive debut in 2017, it will mark almost two decades since Toyota’s last World Championship rally, in 1999.
That season marked the end of over 25 years of continuous rally activity at TMG, which began life as Andersson Motorsport GmbH – named after company founder Ove Andersson – and competed in WRC as Toyota Team Europe (TTE).
In those days, TTE participated with iconic cars such as the Celica Twincam Turbo – and GT-Four variants – and the Corolla WRC, and featured legendary drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol.
Since 1972, Toyota has achieved 149 podiums, 43 wins, four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championship titles: a rich rallying heritage indeed.
World Endurance Championship
Toyota Racing will continue to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Last year, when it became possible to fully utilize the maximum potential of the hybrid system, the Toyota TS040 Hybrid won five out of eight races, winning the manufacturers’ and drivers’ world titles.
This year, the fourth year of participation, Toyota Racing will enhance its full-hybrid powertrain—the Toyota Hybrid System-Racing (THS-R)—aiming to extend both world titles, for the first time, win the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours (held June 13–14).
As World Champions, TOYOTA Racing will take the #1 and #2 plates while the individual driver line-ups have been fine-tuned for maximum performance.
The #1 car will feature drivers’ World Champions Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi alongside Kazuki Nakajima. Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway will share the #2 car.
You’ve heard it drive in anger on the race track. You’ve seen blurry and out of focus photos and video of it. At long last, it’s finally time to take the covers of TOYOTA Racing’s new 2014 contender for the FIA World Endurance Championships and Le Mans 24 Hours, the TS040 HYBRID. Click through the break for all the latest from the unveiling and the following FIA WEC Prologue official test. (more…)