The Toyota GR Yaris is perhaps the most celebrated car of 2020, with journalists and car enthusiasts alike singing unending praise for the little hot hatch. It was made as a homologation special for its 2021 rally car, though the race car never actually got to race no thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic causing havoc for the World Rally Championships (WRC), eventually leading Toyota to scrap its plans for the car.
You can’t help but be disappointed – considering how good the car is on the roads, it would’ve been interesting to see how it performs off the beaten path as well. Fortunately, there is good news – Toyota will be running a significantly updated GR Yaris in the 2022 championships, in line with the revised Rally 1 specifications, and there’s now a new teaser video to show what they’ve been working on.
Currently undergoing testing at the Portugal rally stage, the most obvious change on the exterior of the 2022 Toyota GR Yaris rally car that we can see is undoubtedly the giant air scoops on both sides of the car. The Japanese carmaker did not divulge what these are for, but they’re most likely used to channel air to cool the hybrid batteries – yes, these cars will be electrified, as per the 2022 Rally1 specification!
As it’s still undergoing testing, Toyota also did not share any information on its performance figures. According to the Rally1 technical regulations however, these hybrid powertrains will make around the region of 510 hp when the battery is fully charged, and it certainly looks and sounds fast in the video.
Another new addition to the 2021 Rally1 regulations is the new roll cage, to further improve the safety of the driver and co-driver in the treacherous rally stages. The new safety-cell structure as part of a “completely new chassis design” can be seen on the on-board footage of the new car.
Other changes on the 2021 spec include less complex suspension set-ups with shorter wheel travel and more straightforward components, a more simplified five-speed transmission system, and simpler brake cooling and fuel tank configurations.
All of these changes are designed to make WRC more accessible for new manufacturers (i.e. cheaper), while also improving the sport’s environmental credentials.
Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director, Tom Fowler said: “It is a really exciting project because so many things have changed; we have had to go back to the drawing board on almost the complete car and all of the systems.
“It has been a real pleasure to work with our excellent team of engineers, designers and technicians to get this car ready, and now we are here on the stages of Portugal to put the car through its paces on European gravel roads and really start to experience what the World Rally Championship has to show for a WRC car.”
The 2022 Toyota GR Yaris rally car will continue its validation tests around other sites in Europe until the end of the year, after which the car will be homologated for the Monte Carlo Rally stage as well as the start of the 2022 season.