Will Toyota start slow or flat out, with big driver names?
Officially, they’re still not in a position to confirm or deny anything, but things seem to be moving in the background all the time, suggesting Toyota is getting ready to launch a proper WRC programme in coming years. If that is indeed their plan, then we can be sure there’s a lot of preparation and careful planning going on, even though all we see are sporadic test sessions featuring some well known names and Yaris WRC prototype. Recent news concerning the future of the World Rally Championship are hopefully going to bring some much needed stability and that is extremely important for new teams, of course. We’ve been through all this before and it really is nothing new – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, instead offer even more long term stability and new teams will come. So, let’s say Toyota is indeed going to jump on board in next few years – for such a huge manufacturer, we can expect their WRC project will be top notch and that means they’ll also want top notch drivers. Luckily, WRC is not short of top class drivers at the moment, and some young talents are looking for more exposure as well. But who could be leading Toyota’s WRC return?
According to a tip I got from a reader Jan-Michael, we could be in for a bit of a shocker, if what Luis Moya reportedly suggested during Rally GB coverage is true. Personally I haven’t heard of this rumour, so if this is old news I apologize, but even if it is, it’s still quite interesting. If Toyota indeed contacted Jari-Matti Latvala, who is expected to be the main rival to Sebastien Ogier this year, then that is another proof Cologne based team means business. Toyota was very successful in World Rally Championship in the past, but then they became also very greedy and pompous, which led them to Formula 1 where they failed oh so miserably. And what better way to return to global motor sport scene than WRC, really. They have a history in the sport and many successes, it’s only natural for them to return. By aiming as high as Latvala, Toyota are making their intentions quite clear. They don’t want to start from the bottom and work their way up, no sir, they would be much happier with a nice flying start and a very competitive package as soon as possible. Can they repeat what Volkswagen did and win everything in their first year, well, that’s hard to say, but probably not because matching Volkswagen’s early dominance could prove difficult to repeat, even if enough money is thrown into the project. Perhaps Toyota will go down the Hyundai road and take a bit more time, maybe a season or two, to get everything running smoothly, but no matter which approach they end up taking, there is no doubt they are in it to win and win a lot.
If Jari-Matti Latvala is indeed being lured to move from Wolfsburg to Cologne, then… then things can hardly get any better than this! It’s hard to say how much room JML would be able to enjoy in Volkswagen unless he starts winning more than two times champion Ogier and for a fighter such as Jari-Matti it’s sometimes better to move to a new team and away from shadow of multiple champion, even if both JML and Seb Ogier are allowed to fight with no team orders in Volkswagen, for now.
There are many names being tossed around in connection to Toyota’s WRC programme and seeing Jari-Matti Latvala joining those names is a very good thing. Even if it’s only a rumour and nothing else.