Toyota benchmarking its Rally2 against Škoda

Further development is still required to ensure the GR Yaris will be as quick as the Fabia RS says Jari-Matti Latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted there is still work to be done to its GR Yaris Rally2 to ensure it can compete with Škoda’s Fabia RS next season.

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first customer car has already undergone extensive development since being unveiled for the first time at last year’s Rally Japan.

Most recently the team was testing in Belgium, but the car has been trialed on all surfaces. Toyota test driver Juho Hänninen has done the bulk of the driving but World Rally champion Kalle Rovanperä is among those to have also driven it.

As is Latvala, who drove it in Finland during the winter.

“It is a fun car to drive, but of course in a Rally2 you don’t have the power like Rally1,” Latvala told DirtFish.

“The Rally1 you have this full power to extreme that comes to you. Rally2 you don’t feel that but at the same time it’s really easy, comfortable car to drive.

“And anyway you have a smile on your face driving this car.”


The Toyota engineers have smiles on their faces too as the “car is getting better and better”, but Latvala is aware of how strong the new Škoda has proven to be.

So he knows that if Toyota wants to become the class leader in Rally2, these next few months will be critical.

“We have been testing quite a lot,” Latvala said.

“The car is getting better and better, it’s very easy to drive, handling well, the boys have been really happy about it, it’s been quite reliable, but there is still things to do because we know the level of Škoda, how strong it is.

“So you need to really have the car which is 100% ready for the competition. So there is still work to be done. There’s many tests coming now in the spring time, so [it’s an] important time for the development.”


The first GR Yaris Rally2s are expected to be ready for the start of the 2024 season with FIA homologation planned for the end of 2023.

“If we want to have the car in Monte Carlo 2024, I think then the homologation needs to be done by the very end of the year,” Latvala confirmed.

“So I think that is what we try to look is that we would have the homologation done by the end of the year, that we could have the cars first delivered by the beginning of the year.

“That is at the moment what we are speaking and looking at this option.”


Takamoto Katsuta’s father, Norihiko, is already driving the car in this year’s Japanese Rally Championship though, and Latvala will join him on September’s Rally Hokkaido.

But there aren’t currently any plans for the car to appear as a zero car in Europe – at least not until the second half of 2023.

“I think we could consider or look at it and maybe at the second half of the season, maybe towards the end of the year, then we can we can think about it more,” Latvala said.

“But at the moment we are doing the Japanese Rally Championship in the open class. So that’s also giving us good data.”

Words:Luke Barry