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WRC Rally Finland

Toyota outlines long-term commitment to WRC

Toyota is committed to the World Rally Championship for the long-term future, according to the car maker’s chairman Akio Toyoda.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The Japanese brand is one of three manufacturers currently represented in rallying’s tier alongside Hyundai and Ford via its partnership with M-Sport.

Toyoda, the figure that brought Toyota back to the WRC after a 17-year absence in 2017, confirmed the brand is committed to the WRC.

This commitment arrives amid uncertainty regarding the future direction of the category with a significant shift in regulations for 2017 expected, with EV, hydrogen and synthetic fuels all methods of propulsion being discussed.

Last year the WRC made its first move to become more environmentally friendly, moving to hybrid power and 100% sustainable fuel.

Last weekend at Rally Finland, Toyota provided a hint at its long-term commitment to the WRC by revealing plans to construct a new WRC development centre near its team workshop in Jyvaskyla.

When asked by Autosport if this is a sign that Toyota plans to be in the WRC for the foreseeable future, Toyoda, who acted as interim WRC team principal in Finland, said: “It is fine that you take it as a long-term [WRC] commitment from Toyota.

“I think if you look at the past with Toyota there was a time when the decision to participate in motorsports was made just from a marketing needs perspective.

“We are a company that has history where we were in WRC and then at one point the company made a decision that we should focus on Formula 1 and we withdrew from WRC. And then after 17 years of being absent after I became president, I said I wanted our return to the WRC approved and that is how we came back.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“There is two reasons why I wanted to come back to WRC. The first is we wanted to be able to come back and participate so that we can use this experience to make even better cars and also the second is for human resource development.

“If we lose the two we are going to lose our raison d'etre as a company that is why I can say that this commitment to WRC is going to be a long-term commitment by Toyota.”

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Toyoda, who is a passionate rally fan, is pushing for the competition to grow beyond Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport in the WRC.

“I think competition is what is needed for motorsport, but the more participants the better and that is why I’m trying to use every opportunity I have to invite people to please join us, so we have good competition,” Toyoda added.

“When we look at WRC it is Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport, I want more.”

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