DirtFish understands that Toyota’s 2022-specification Yaris WRC has begun its test program with the car now running in France.
No pictures of the car have emerged but the team and the car have been spotted in south-east France.
One source told DirtFish: “It was the new car. You could see it was different, it sounded different.”
Toyota technical director Tom Fowler told DirtFish earlier this season that the 2022 car would be running before the end of the first quarter.
Fowler declined to comment on specifics of the test program, but for the car to be in France and running what’s most likely to be and early rough gravel endurance session, the Yaris WRC would have to have been through a roll-out and shakedown procedure in Finland late last month.
The only thing Fowler would discuss with DirtFish regarding 2022 is the engine – which is now being designed and built wholly within Toyota’s Cologne factory.
“The homologation is done now,” Fowler said. “We’ve prepared all of our 2021 jokers for the car and the engine is finished.
“In all honesty, this is nothing new – we had the engine specification set quite a long time ago, it’s just the homologation process we’ve now completed.”
It’s possible the engine could be running as soon as next week’s Croatia Rally.
“It’s an improvement on the old engine so wanted to use it as soon as possible,” Fowler added. “Whether that’s in time for Croatia, we don’t know yet.
“In terms of the improvements to the engine, the one area we’re very happy about is, obviously, having the whole unit built by Toyota. This is the first all-complete Toyota engine we’ve run in the Yaris WRC. That’s good. It’s not necessarily something always seen as a development, but for us we’re very happy.
“I’m not going to talk specifics, but it’s fair to say this engine development is leaning more towards a power rather than torque-based step. And, as usual, we’ve worked on durability and reliability as well as performance.”
DirtFish understands one of the key durability questions came from the cylinder failure Sébastien Ogier suffered in Turkey last season. That issue is understood to have been solved with the new engine.
A recent e-vote confirming P1 as the WRC’s renewable fuel supplier for 2022 will raise further questions between the teams’ technical directors.
DirtFish understands the FIA has employed the services of a team to test the fuel, but with such a different chemical composition to what the series is running this season, Fowler and his opposite numbers in the service park won’t be happy until they’ve run it through their 2022 cars.