Toyota already has an update ready for its GR Yaris Rally1 in 2024, but won’t implement it until Safari Rally Kenya at the earliest.
Next year World Rally Championship teams will be afforded just two development jokers to implement upgrades to their Rally1 cars, down from three in 2023.
Toyota technical director Tom Fowler described this as “quite a small window of opportunity” but the reigning manufacturers’ champion already has an update prepared.
Intriguingly though, it won’t be released for either the Monte Carlo or Swedish events.
Fowler told DirtFish: “We’ve already got options, one is selected. We won’t bring it in the beginning of the year, but most likely in the third or fourth rally, we aim to come with the first upgrade.”
Why the delay?
“We’re quite happy with our situation for Monte Carlo,” Fowler reasoned. “It’s a tricky rally, so we’d rather keep the status quo and concentrate on getting the right tires.
“But after that, we have an upgrade ready, which should be nice.
“We have been testing it [for] quite some time.”
Toyota’s most recent upgrade was rolled out before Rally Estonia in July and concentrated primarily on engine performance. Fowler wouldn’t divulge the exact details of what would be improved next, but did admit it’s not on the aero side.
“Honestly speaking I think I’m really happy at the moment with how our design team is working,” Fowler added. “Because they are responsible for the Rally2 car as well, it’s the same guys. We don’t have two teams.
“It’s all the same people working in a matrix-type environment where they’re picking up jobs from the two cars, which we decided to do to keep the learning between the projects on as high a level as possible.
“And actually, the update which we are bringing has come about as a result of some things that we learned from R&D for Rally2. So actually a really nice piece of work that’s been done by the design team in Rally2 which was transferable to Rally1.
“In that sense, the two projects are going well together at the moment.”
News that the latest upgrade won’t be immediately available may not be music to the ears of Toyota’s drivers, particularly given Hyundai is strengthening both its car and driver lineup for 2024.
“Yeah I think you always would like to see everything as early as possible. It definitely helps,” two-time world champion Kalle Rovanperä told DirtFish.
“But I’m still quite confident we are on a good way, the pace is still there, the car is always reliable so we just need to drive well. But for sure the competition is going to be big.”
Elfyn Evans added: “I know that the team are always working on stuff, and I think we are making steady progress all the time, and that’s all that’s really important.
“I don’t think that you have to start every new season with brand new updates.”