The feeling of going faster, turning sooner or braking later, gives the mouth drying and skin tingling sensation that makes you want to do it again and do it better. Toyota’s President and CEO Akio Toyoda – or Morizo as he’s known in motorsport world, has always known the feeling that comes along with racing.
Toyoda’s mentor Hiromu Naruse, a humble yet terse master driver taught Toyoda that, “Real roads, not test courses, build the better cars.” However, tragedy struck in 2010 when Naruse passed away. Toyoda felt lost after losing his mentor and leaving him without a figure to draw inspiration from.
In 2014, a revelation occurred when Tommi Mäkinen, one of the best FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers guided Toyoda and improved his driving technique, Toyoda soon found out the depth of knowledge Tommi possessed, of different cars and roads around the world. Because of this, Toyoda felt that he had found the partner who has the knowledge to build ever-better cars with, from the driver’s point of view.
Toyoda then decided that the brand needed to be involved in the WRC as it is one of the most extreme forms of motorsport events on the planet. He not only wanted to transform everyday cars into beasts capable of challenging the world’s most difficult roads, but also to ensure Toyota always built driver-centric cars. In 2015, Toyota broke the news that it would return to the WRC for the 2017 season after an 18-year hiatus, with four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen at the helm of team principal in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team (TGR WRT).
The return to the WRC made the team started development on an all-new rally car. Working tirelessly, the team built and ran countless tests to achieve the Yaris WRC. TGR WRT then went on to sign Jari-Matti Latvala whom they chose to drive the Yaris WRC through to the finish line. Latvala knew exactly what needed to be improved on in the development of the Yaris WRC ahead of the opening rally of the 2017 season in Monte Carlo. He mentioned that he previously feedbacked the throttle response issue, and TGR WRT tackled it head on and massively improved the engine. It’s a part of team principal Mäkinen’s pragmatic approach.
Many veteran WRC teams believe that the right drivers, cars and support team are the sole ingredients to build a successful long-term WRC team. However, TGR WRT believes that rallying and racing podium finishes mean little, unless it translates into consumer cars and making them ever-better. With that mindset, Toyota has since committed to continuous effort in testing and validating its cars – and ultimately, making them better and delivering to consumers. Not just for today, but for tomorrow.
To read the full article from CNN, head on over here.