Toyota has announced plans to return to the World Rally Championship (WRC), eyeing off a 2017 competition debut for its new WRC racer.
The Japanese carmaker this week whipped the covers off a hardened and heavily modified three-door Yaris that will be sent into battle carrying Toyota Motorsport WRC livery.
The Yaris WRC will undergo two full years of testing, before Toyota Motorsport contests the entire 2017 season with a view to being competitive from "day one".
The program will follow testing that has already taken place in Europe, with the Yaris having been evaluated on both gravel and tarmac surfaces in recent weeks.
Power for Toyota’s new racer will come from a 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, good for more than 300 BHP (224kW) and 420Nm.
Drive comes via a six-speed sequential transmission, with power transferred to the road through 15-inch wheels on gravel and 18-inch on tarmac; all wearing Michelin tyres.
The larger wheels in tarmac spec allow for bigger brake rotors as well, with 300mm discs up front on the gravel racer and 355mm for tarmac.
Toyota is quick to remind us of its previous success in rallying, having won four driver’s and three manufacturer’s titles in the 1990s.
It’s been a while between drinks for Toyota in World Rally however, with the carmaker’s last official appearance taking place in 1999.
The team is yet to announce a driver and co-driver line-up for 2017, but 27-year-old French driver Eric Camilli has been confirmed as the first member of a junior development program.
Camilli will take part in testing for the Yaris WRC, along with Toyota President Akio Toyoda - never afraid to get his hands dirty during development despite his position at the top of the company tree.
If recent form is anything to go by, Toyota could be chasing the pack-leading Volkswagen Polo team in 2017 which recently unveiled its new car for this year’s WRC season.
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