The upgraded Toyota the WRC will see in Tartu

Toyota only recently said its upgrade focus was on reliability, but it has performance parts ready for Estonia


Toyota technical director Tom Fowler has talked the talk his rivals didn’t want to hear. After talking DirtFish through the reliability-first plan earlier this season, Tom feels the need. You know the rest.

The speed’s on order. Delivery? Tartu, late next week.

The fast is getting faster with a performance upgrade loaded aboard the already dominant Toyota GR Yaris Rally1.

After an intro like that, Fowler’s typically matter of fact about what’s coming.

“You know we worked a lot of reliability in the first half? Well, we know reliability on its own is not going to cut it in Estonia, Finland and Ypres,” he said.

“Those are three rallies in a row which are really just [about engine] grunt, a pedal to the metal situation.



The Toyota driver's season is becoming ever more dominant

“We all know these rallies, it comes down to seconds here and there. We have put a performance package together ready for Estonia, which consists of a mid-season engine upgrade as normal. This is what we’ve done [in time for the mid-season fast rallies] for the last six years.”

What does a mid-season upgrade consist of these days?

“I think broadly speaking it’s power,” Fowler explains. “Every year we say we’ve gone torque, power, torque, power, torque, power. For the moment we’ve been looking for more power for the simple reason that the electric motor has got torque, so why would you put more of that at this point?

“So yeah, a more powerful engine is coming.”

That all? Yes and no.

“We’ve got a new rear wing.”


Hello… big difference?

“It, er, it looks a little bit different. But quite a lot the same.

“You’ll probably notice the difference, but it’s just a little bit of a re-adjustment on aero balance with the rear wing.”

For a car which is already looking like a shoo-in for the title, the emphasis on performance might come as a surprise to some. It shouldn’t. What is surprising is part of the thinking behind the upgrades.

“We’ve collected a lot of data on these cars, and we’ve seen Hyundai’s engine is the strongest right now. If the championship was run in a straight line, you want a Hyundai. Put some corners in and you want a Toyota.

“The work that we’ve done on these jokers has been as a reaction to what we’ve seen more from Hyundai than some of the others. There are, of course, another couple of hurdles in the next few rallies – one of those is Ott [Tänak] at home in Estonia and [Theirry] Neuville at home in Belgium. They will be strong – not least because there’s less corners on those rallies!”