In fact, Toyota is not undecided on WRC, they don’t even mention it apart from the fact that this new R3 version of GT86 bestseller will be eligible for WRC events. This is not Toyota’s return to the WRC, this is just another pretty wise move towards making the most out of the obviously very awesome RWD platform that is GT86. This car is selling like there’s no tomorrow, topless version is also in the works and (second) concept will be unveiled in Tokyo this month, and of course GT86 is used as a rally car for some time now in Japan and elsewhere. So why not make the next logical step and turn it into a proper rally car, eligible for rallies run under FIA banner.
Toyota Motorsport’s EU-based activities have attracted much attention, always ending with the same conclusion – “they’re working on a WRC car and programme for the 20xx season“. From GT86 to Yaris and Auris, many cars were linked to this WRC programme. Engines were built and tested, vague and teasing statements were issued, but for now we still have no clear idea about team’s and company’s long-term plans.
However, this is not to say Toyota’s entry into R3 market isn’t a great bit of news. It is. We’re talking huge manufacturer here, the scale of Volkswagen. They have a sporty car to sell and they have decided to showcase it as a rally car as well as a circuit racing machine. Some time ago FIA was all about GT cars and RWD cars as the next big-ish thing to enrich the rallying scene, Lotus came and went, but perhaps Toyota’s entry could stir the scene up again. I have no doubts GT86 R3 will be a hit, both with drivers and the spectators. It looks great, runs fine and it’s REAR WHEEL DRIVE, yo!
Now, about Toyota and the WRC. They are getting ready for it and they have a pretty clear plan in their heads, I believe. But I don’t think Toyota will make the move just yet. Not until the future of the sport is as unclear as it is now. Not until title winning teams are walking out of the WRC Commission meetings. Not until there is no news about the media plans for 2014 and beyond. Toyota did not become of the largest car brands in the world by accident, they’re plotting their steps carefully and no matter how ready their secretive rally programme might be, they’re still weighing the pros and cons of this thing we call WRC. The ball is not in their yard at the moment.
Official info follows below.
R3 RALLY CAR ANNOUNCED
TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) is proud to announce it will develop a GT86 R3 rally car as part of its customer motorsport programme.
The rear-wheel drive sports car will be converted to R3 specification and made available to private competitors, with delivery expected for the 2015 season.
The car, which will be known as the TMG GT86 CS-R3, will be built according to R3 regulations, meaning it will have a six-speed sequential gearbox, limited slip differential, modified engine, adapted brakes and other upgrades.
Drawing on the experience of developing the TMG GT86 CS-V3 race car for the Nürburgring-based VLN series, TMG engineers will modify the base car to the maximum level permitted within the regulations.
The TMG GT86 CS-R3 is targeted at private customers and is eligible for all FIA-sanctioned rallies, up to and including the World Rally Championship. Full specifications and pricing will be announced in the coming months.
Today’s announcement strengthens TMG’s commitment to customer motorsport and rallying, both of which represent key aspects of its long-term business strategy.
With a Yaris R1A already launched plus the ongoing development of a Global Race Engine, TMG is expanding and strengthening its knowledge of rallying and drawing on its proud history in the sport.
TMG’s very existence is founded on rally, having begun life in Cologne in 1979 as Toyota Team Europe (TTE). Under Ove Andersson, the company went on to win four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championships.
Nico Ehlert, Principal Engineer Customer Motorsport: “Rallying is in our blood at TMG so it is very exciting to announce that we will be expanding our rally operations. The GT86 CS-R3 promises to be a thrilling car on the rally stages; with rear-wheel drive we can expect some dramatic action which is sure to be entertaining for drivers and fans alike.
Through our experience with the TMG GT86 Cup and the TMG GT86 CS-V3 race car we have built a solid infrastructure for customer motorsport over the past few years. We will draw on this to deliver a reliable, safe and high-performance car, plus all the required technical support, for our customers. We expect demand to be high so we are looking forward to seeing a lot of GT86 CS-R3 rally cars in action from the beginning of the 2015 season.”
Racing by TMG: The customer racing arm of TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) is identified by the “racing by TMG” logo, which encompasses race and rally projects designed exclusively for private participants. TMG returned to the world of customer motorsport in 2012 with the launch of the Yaris R1 entry-level rally car, while the same year saw the introduction of the TMG Customer Sport V3 (CS-V3) race car. That car won its class in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and forms the basis of the expanding TMG GT86 Cup, run within the Nürburgring-based VLN series.