So, Here’s What I Don’t Quite Get…

World Rally Blog’s guest author Jason Anthony would like to know more about Toyota’s decision to spend two full years in car and team development, before joining the WRC in 2017. If you know the answer, please put WRB in Cc because I would like to know too.

It has already been more than a week since we found out that Toyota is returning for sure to the World Rally Championship. Like David van den Boom wrote in his article, this wasn’t really a surprise to anyone. We have seen videos of what appeared to be a WRC-spec Yaris floating around the internet for quite awhile. However, when the announcement was made, it still brought me a great deal of excitement. In the midst of all of that giddiness, it took a little while for me to put some thought into Toyota’s approach to their return. However, once I sat down and pondered it for a little bit, I keep coming back to one nagging question that I can’t seem to answer.

Why 2017??? The current regulations for the WRC are set to remain static until the end of 2016. Now, some sources within the FIA have admitted that 2017 will be more of an “evolution” rather than a “revolution,” so the cars might be quite similar to what we see on the stages right now. However, none of that is set in stone, and at this point, it is merely speculation. In light of this, by the time 2017 arrives, Toyota will have spent over 3 years testing for a set of regulations that doesn’t even exist at this point in time. Now, I freely admit that I have no knowledge of what is going on inside of that white Yaris that we see on YouTube, but everything about it seems quite similar to the Polo’s, i20’s, DS3’s, and Fiesta’s that are currently running in the WRC. It seems like it was designed around the current WRC specifications that have been in place since 2011.

With this in mind, why would Toyota spend the entirety of the next two years testing instead of competing on the stages? We have seen many times that you can test until you are blue in the face, but until the car is proven in competition, you never really know what you have. Maybe they don’t want to suffer the same fate as Suzuki did with the SX4. That was a car that was rushed out too quickly and fell flat on its face. However, you would think that with almost 2 years of testing under it’s belt, the car should be ready to compete. Furthermore, why spend so much time testing on a platform that might not even be relevant come 2017? Do you feel me? Something just doesn’t add up… What do you think? Does Toyota know something that we don’t?