The secret Toyota that could have dominated the WRC

Toyota has revealed a radical GR Yaris it planned to enter the 2021 World Rally Championship that according to the team was “probably good” for the series that it never competed.

The secret Toyota that could have dominated the WRC

A prototype GR Yaris built to 2017 WRC regulations was developed in 2020 before COVID-19 forced Toyota to abandon its plan, and instead compete with an updated version of its previous Yaris.

This new look GR Yaris, which features a radical aero package, was on display at the team’s new WRC factory in Finland, which opened its doors to the media for the first time this week.

Toyota’s initial plan was to homologate an entirely new car based around the GR Yaris for 2021 to coincide with the latest specification road car GR Yaris.

The squad put a year and a half into the plan, which resulted in the car completing four days of testing in early 2020, before the WRC imposed a testing ban when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Despite limited testing and development, the car had already proven to be quicker than its previous 2017 speciation Yaris, which guided Sebastien Ogier to an eighth world title in 2021 and helped secure Toyota the manufacturers’ title.

Faced with little time to complete the car’s development before the 2021 season, the team elected to switch its attention to future projects including the all-new 2022 Rally1 hybrid.

“This [car] is an incredible thing. It is unbelievable,” Technical director Tom Fowler told media including Autosport.

“It is something which would have been driving in the season 2021 apart from the situation with Coronavirus.

Toyota GR Yaris WRC

Toyota GR Yaris WRC

Photo by: Tom Howard

“To make a completely new homologation of a new completely new car in the middle of that was not really feasible.

“If you recall back to mid-2020 there was a complete test ban in WRC and at then point the test ban came we had driven the car for four days, and then the ban came and we were supposed to be introducing that [car in a] matter of months after that.

“It became very complicated but after those four days it was already faster than the Yaris. It was a very disappointing situation as this car is really incredible.”

Read Also:

Fowler also revealed that the work put into the car was not entirely wasted, with some of the learning gathered put to use on its 2022 GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid, that has won five of seven events this year.

“We did learn a lot from this car and for Rally1 there was some learning, also we used some of the information to make updates to the previous WRC car,” he added.

“But the way it was developed as a package with the road car, it gave so many advantages that it was probably a good thing for the WRC this car never came [to be].”

Toyota GR Yaris WRC

Toyota GR Yaris WRC

Photo by: Tom Howard

shares
comments

Related video

WRC Rally Finland: Everything you need to know
Previous article

WRC Rally Finland: Everything you need to know

Next article

Evans: Not easy to translate Rovanpera’s WRC techniques

Evans: Not easy to translate Rovanpera’s WRC techniques
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022