Toyota’s first-ever Rally2 car is on track to be homologated in time for the start of the 2024 season, with early paperwork being submitted to the FIA this month.
Both of Toyota’s World Rally Championship rivals, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford, offer cars for the Rally2 market, while M-Sport also builds Rally3, Rally4 and Rally5 machines.
But the GR Yaris Rally2 will be Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first customer car, and has been extensively tested throughout 2023.
The plan has always been to have the car ready for competition in time for 2024, which Toyota technical director Tom Fowler confirmed is still on track.
“The validity of the paperwork will be hopefully from the beginning of 2024, so first of the year. And of course the process for that starts already in this month [September],” Fowler told DirtFish.
“We need to go to the FIA later in the year, physically, so the paperwork process starts this month,” he added.
“Of course we’re already in dialogue with them, we have made homologation papers as drafts and so on and we’ve been checking items with them for many months.
“But the official paperwork process will start in this month and working towards a physical inspection at the end of the year.”
That means the final spec of the GR Yaris Rally2 is close to being confirmed.
“In terms of a performance point of view, the drivers have been really happy recently,” Fowler continued.
“It’s always the case in these developments, whether it’s been WRC, Rally2, Rally1 that we’ve done, we always seem to get a distinct turning point where for a longer-than-comfortable period of time you feel like things aren’t really progressing.
“Small steps and small steps, and then something clicks and everything comes together, and you start to get… you know when a driver says ‘actually, this car might be OK’ then you know we’re going to be OK with this as a concept.
“Because if you get the concept wrong, there’s no going back.”
The GR Yaris Rally2 has already proved to be a rally winner too, as Jari-Matti Latvala drove the Concept version to victory on Japan’s Rally Hokkaido on the same weekend as Acropolis Rally Greece.
Takamoto Katsuta’s father, Norihiko, has driven the car in Japan all season and was second behind Toyota’s team principal in Japan.
Both cars ran without any issues.
“I would say that’s probably the most important thing for me,” said Fowler.
“Of course I’m sure Jari-Matti’s happy to win a rally but I would say this result doesn’t excite me hugely, but the thing that is very important for me and important for the team is the car has run in a rally condition.
“I understand that the issue list is very small, no major issues at all with the car. Of course, every rally generates some level of things to improve, but certainly that’s the big takeaway.
“Testing is one thing but [with a] test you have unlimited service. In a rally you need to stick to an itinerary, you need to stick to a service time and the car’s done it without any issue at all.
“So that’s really positive for next year.”