Toyota’s 2024 Rally2 car faces its biggest test yet as it ramps up its gravel development program.
Recent running has focused on snow and asphalt, but Toyota technical director Tom Fowler believes upcoming gravel testing will be key to the car’s development.
The GR Yaris Rally2 had its first test in October 2022 and a concept version was unveiled to the world at Rally Japan a month later.
While Fowler has previously stressed the importance of having a Rally2 car, it took a long time for Toyota to settle on creating one and it also worked on other development projects such as its hydrogen-powered GR Yaris H2 after announcing its Rally2 plans.
But development of the car that will face off against Citroën, Hyundai, M-Sport Ford and Škoda’s Rally2 machinery, as well as Volkswagen’s previous-generation Polo GTI R5, has accelerated over the winter with European and Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Juho Hänninen as lead development driver.
Fowler told DirtFish the development was “moving along” and “all good, very positive”, with “some testing done almost every other week at the moment”.
“It’s going forwards quite well,” he said. “We’ve done some snow work because we could more easily [in winter]. And we’ve done some Tarmac and not so much as we need to on gravel, so I would say the most important step now is to get the gravel car.
“Because, you know, there’s so many people using these cars for gravel events around the world, it’s the predominant market really so that’s the next big hurdle.”
A test in France a few weeks ago was the car’s first significant mileage on asphalt roads.
Fowler revealed that while other drivers have been involved in the testing so far, Hänninen is “predominantly” the one being called upon to clock up the development miles.