TOYOTA Australia has again thrown its support behind local motorsport, today announcing a factory-backed Gazoo Racing Australia rally team.
The newly-formed team will make its debut at Rally Australia next weekend, ahead of a two-car assault on the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) in 2019.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia will field AP4-spec Yaris rally cars, with Harry Bates joined by his younger brother Lewis next year.
The pair are the sons of Australian rally legend Neal Bates, and will work with their father who has been appointed head of the Canberra-based racing team.
A return to factory-backed motorsport in Australia indicates Toyota’s support for its Gazoo performance arm.
“Toyota has always recognised the value of participating in motorsport as a means of developing ever more durable, reliable and exciting cars,” Toyota chief marketing officer Wayne Gabriel said.
“This is a philosophy that underpins Toyota Gazoo Racing that runs the global motorsports program – including the leading World Rally Championship team – which in turn, feeds into its development of our new sports and performance cars.
The Gazoo performance brand will be used to market Toyota’s hotted-up road cars, and is expected to make its debut in Australia with the highly-anticipated Supra.
It is unclear what other Toyota products will be sold locally under the performance arm.
Rally fans already have a glimpse of what to expect from Gazoo Racing, with Harry Bates sitting second in the ARC in an AP4-spec Yaris sponsored by Toyota Genuine Parts alongside co-driver John McCarthy.
For the final round of the year, Bates and McCarthy will compete in both the ARC and WRC2 classes at the final round of the World Rally Championship in Coffs Harbour.
Lewis is also competing in the ARC in a S2000-spec ninth generation Corolla.
The Bates family has a strong history with Toyota, with Neal and Coral Taylor winningthe brand its first ARC title in 1993 in a Celica GT-Four.
The duo went on to win a hat-trick of championships, before winning a fourth in 2008 in the same Corolla that Lewis drives now.