20160929_02_02

Toyota has unveiled the car that it will participate in the 2017 World Rally Championship with, entering the international rallying scene again for the first time in 18 years.

Based on the Yaris, the new car certainly looks a lot meaner than the prototype the world’s largest carmaker showed when it announced its return to WRC early last year. The announcement of new regulations for next year – which is meant to make for faster, more exciting racing – would’ve sent the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Rally Team and Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) back to the drawing board.

The result is a much more aggressive look in keeping with the spirit of the rule changes. There are larger fender flares, deeper air dam and side sills and a more intricate rear wing that features more fins and separate flics on the sides.

2016_paris_ms_06

Toyota president Akio Toyoda and team principal Tommi Mäkinen

The regulations call for an unchanged 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, but with larger air restrictors (from 33 mm to 36 mm) bringing power outputs from 300 hp up to WTCC levels at 380 hp. The minimum weight has also dropped by 25 kg, while an active centre differential is now allowed to be used again.

It has also been announced that Microsoft has joined as a technology partner for the team. The Redmond-based tech giant will assist Toyota in developing a data analysis platform, creating a team information sharing system and enhancing communication with fans through the cloud and Microsoft’s display devices.

The collaboration builds on an existing partnership between the two companies, which has recently resulted in the new Toyota Connected user experience and product development company. Other companies that have signed on to the WRC project include Michelin, machining tools supplier DMG Mori and Panasonic.

Leading the team in its return is team principal and four-time WRC champion Tommi Mäkinen. Excited?