Toyota announced that it intends to return to the World Rally Championship in 2017, fielding a Yaris run by its Motorsports arm located in Cologne, Germany.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, along with Lancia and Ford, Toyota has one of the longest and most successful rally heritages of all time. We visited TMG last year and its rally back catalogue caused plenty of drooling.
It began in 1972, with Swede Ove Andersson, who would go on to run Toyota’s Motorsport Operations for 30 years, campaigning a Celica in the RAC rally that year.
The first win came at Rally Finland at 1975, but success would be sporadic for the next decade. Toyota took a number of wins on the gruelling Safari rally during the Group B era, where its slower, but simpler, two-wheel drive Celica Turbo was able to outlast the faster all-wheel drive opposition.
It was in the late-’80s that Toyota really got serious. The combination of the all-wheel drive Celica GT-Four and Spaniard Carlos Sainz took a little while to gel, but culminated in drivers’ championships in 1990 and 1992.
Further drivers’ titles followed in 1993 (Juha Kankkunen) and 1994 (Didier Auriol) while it also won the constructors’ title in 1993, 1994 and 1999, its last year of participation. Our tribute video features a selection of awesome footage from these glory days.
The arrival of Toyota will mean there will be five top-level manufacturers competing in WRC, providing a level of competition that hasn’t been since rallying’s halcyon days of the late’-90s.