Toyota closer to WRC comeback
Japanese firm’s motorsport chief hints at 2014 return
Toyota’s possible return to the FIA World Rally Championship moved a step closer to becoming reality when the company’s motorsport president Yoshiaki Kinoshita suggested a comeback in 2014 was a strong possibility.
A one-time powerhouse of the WRC, Toyota has been absent from the series since the end of 1999 when it switched its focus to Formula One.
The Japanese firm has already begun work on a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine to meet current WRC regulations. At the same time, it has also sought the approval of the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, and its rival manufacturers to use its Yaris model as the basis of the project, even though it is 15cm short of the regulation 3.9-metre car length.
“We hope we are ready in 2014,” Kinoshita was quoted as saying in Autosport magazine. “Of course the final target is the WRC programme, but to get back in WRC we need several steps. Because we stopped rally programme in 1999 and after that most of the people are gone, there is no know-how inside the company. What we need is to prepare engines, and homologated chassis, and build up our knowledge again. Then we are ready.”
Toyota is currently in the first year of a three-year endurance racing programme although Kinoshita said it would be possible to support a WRC project as well.
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