After months of hard work and sacrifice, it was finally time to put their creation to the test. A stressful moment for everyone on the team because the first test run was often one that was filled with problems that could set the team back for weeks, or even months.
The reaction from Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen was going to be one that the development team was going to remember for the rest of their lives. He came back from the test course in the first Yaris WRC led to nothing but positive reviews and with that, their first major problem of getting a rally car up and running was finally overcome.
President and CEO Toyoda revealed the Yaris WRC in Paris, and gave the green light for the team to move forward with the fine-tuning of the car in preparation of the grueling conditions it will face throughout the WRC season in 2017.
Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver immediately drove to the Toyota facility to start with testing on the car that they were going to spend the next WRC season in. His first reaction was that they had something great on their hands, and the team was hungry to become champions, not just participants. Looking to make a run for the Championship, the pair wanted to make sure everything about the car was perfect before the season began.
Through the first prototype, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team then built 3 other test cars that were sent around Europe to countries like France, Portugal, Spain and Germany for data collection and optimization. Test car 1 was based in Finland, tackling the snowy terrains and helping the team to better understand what was required of the car in such conditions. Test car 2 was built with a tarmac specification, focusing on data collection for stages that were conducted on asphalt. The final test car was a gravel specification test car, used to collect data from gravel conditions.
Applying for road licenses to test sending the cars overseas required coordination. The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team reached out to local dealers and friends to help assist during testing and throughout the new season ahead. Being able to leave terrain specific equipment on the stages was going to prove a crucial factor, but the team managed to build a framework ahead of the 2017 season to tackle.
Committed to being serious title contenders, the WRT sent in reconnaissance teams to survey the 2017 stages ahead of the season. The routes were recorded and pacenotes were taken ahead of the season to further assist the drivers and the team on the strategies they can use to tackle the stages ahead of the actual race.
Since then, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has seen their hard work pay off in the returning season after 18 long years. Latvala won Rally Sweden early on in the season, and shocking the world in his debut WRC season, Esapekka Lappi won at home in Rally Finland. With 3 more stages to the end of the season, Latvala is still a serious contender for the top spot at the end of the season.
The unpredictability of the WRC is what makes it so exciting, don’t forget to stay tuned to action and follow us on Facebook for the latest TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team updates!