Different concept will surprise WRC opposition in 2017, says Toyota

Toyota will surprise its opposition with a different car concept when it returns to the World Rally Championship in 2017, says the project's technical chief

Different concept will surprise WRC opposition in 2017, says Toyota

After an absence of nearly two decades, Toyota has linked up with four-­time WRC champion Tommi Makinen's team to build a Yaris to the series' new regulations next year.

Testing so far has been carried out with a mule car based on the current Yaris road car design, but chief of engineering Tom Fowler said the final model will stand apart from the rest of the field.

"The overall concept is quite different [to rivals' cars]," he said.

"It's too early for me to explain where these differences are physically with the car, that would give away something we feel will be an advantage to us."

Fowler added that while the body shape would change, the mechanical elements of the 2017 car were already in use on the test machine.

"Underneath it's not so different," he said.

"We're able to produce the current test cars using data for the 2017 road car, so on the outside the test car looks like a 2015 car, but on the inside it's a 2017 car."

He hinted at major aerodynamic advances when the definitive 2017 design appears.

"In the previous generation cars there was not much targeting on aerodynamics," said Fowler.

"Going to the other extreme, if you look at Formula 1 cars, they will compromise every single suspension component for a small amount of aero.

"Now that's not something that rallying has ever seen before and it's not to say we will fully compromise everything for aero, but the balance has changed."

Toyota's official motorsport arm in Cologne had begun work on a WRC project before Makinen's organisation in Finland was given the nod instead.

Fowler said "nothing" had been carried over from the TMG Yaris to the Makinen design, but that the team was working "very closely" with the factory on the engine.

Though facilities and a car have had to be created from scratch, Fowler said coming back in to coincide with the major rule change was good timing for Makinen and Toyota.

"We start with a clean sheet of paper and that's the advantage," he said.

"We are starting from a position that doesn't give us many advantages, but that's one.

"We have no old parts to carry over or feel obliged to use for financial or practicality reasons.

"Everything on our car is bespoke for the new regulations."

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