In 1957, Toyota participated in its first overseas race, by sending in the Toyopet Crown, putting its brand and reputation on the line at the Mobilgas Rally in Australia. Nicknamed the “world’s most grueling rally” at the time, drivers had to cover 17000km over 19 days. Toyopet Crown rose up to the challenge and successfully completed the race while the grueling rally saw half of its participants dropping out.
When the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) was founded in 1973, Toyota made sure to be on the list of participants from their first year. From the Celica TA22 in 1973, to the Corolla Levin TE27, Toyota has been making its mark on the rally world. In 1983, the Celica Twin-Cam Turbo made its debut in the Safari Rally. The legendary machine proved to have both speed and endurance to withstand the rallies’ treacherous conditions reigning as the Kings of Africa by winning back-to-back Safari Rally events from 1984 to 1986. With these successes, Toyota’s technologies hit an all-time high and gained global recognition.
Toyota Racing’s win streak continued on into the 1990s, when Carlos Sainz won the WRC in the ST 165 and Toyota secured their first drivers’ title in the WRC amongst other Japanese car manufacturers. In 1992, Sainz won his 2nd WRC with the ST 185. The following year, Juha Kankkunen won the WRC in 1993, with Toyota winning the Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship for a double crown that year. In 1994, Didier Auriol won the WRC for drivers with Toyota managing to win the Manufacturers’ World Rally Championship yet again dominating the WRC for two whole seasons securing our successes in the WRC before withdrawing from the series in 1999.
In 2001, Panasonic Toyota Racing was formed in participation of the Formula One World Championship and the Formula One car, TF101 was unveiled. Securing its first point finish and placing sixth in the Australian Grand Prix in 2002 was only the beginning of Toyota Racing’s participation in the Formula One. Toyota Racing stood proudly on the podium in 2009, with the deafening home fans cheering them on as they clinched their first Formula One podium finish at the Japan Grand Prix, as the team reaped the rewards of their dedication to the sport.
Returning to the basis, Toyota unified all their separate racing entities in 2015, under a single banner – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, placing motorsport as a fundament in its commitment to make ever-better cars.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC has since returned to the WRC in 2017 with former rival-turned-teammate and four time WRC Drivers’ Champion Tommi Mäkinen at the helm as team principal, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has already managed multiple podium finishes, laying the foundations for a potentially successful WRC season after an 18 year hiatus!