It’s a big week for Toyota’s all-new GR Yaris Rally2. Not only is the car completing the latest stage in its testing process, it’s going through its final FIA homologation inspection and it’s starting a rally.
A big week.
Homologation sign-off is expected for the Jyväskylä-based team’s first Rally2 car ever in time for January 1 and a Monte Carlo Rally WRC2 debut – but it will take to the stages on the Rallye du Dévoluy as a zero car this weekend.
Talking about the final phase of an 18-month development process, Toyota’s technical director Tom Fowler told DirtFish: “We’re really happy with how things have gone.
“But what I said to you before is still true: nothing ever seems to come together until a bit later than you want. I would say this has been the same as all the cars we’ve done; it feels like there’s a list of complaints and improvements required that’s not getting shorter and then you turn a corner and it comes together. That’s what’s happened here.
“The performance of the car feels good and now we’re looking at the final hurdle for the FIA’s inspection this week for homologation at the end of the month [from January 1].”
Talking specifically about testing in the French Alps, where Stéphane Lefebvre was driving the car – reportedly as a potential customer – on Monday, Fowler added the timetable for the week was all part of the plan. Sami Pajari, or long-term tester Juho Hänninen, is reckoned to be behind the wheel for this week’s Rallye du Dévolu.
This week is about Monte Carlo and the rally scenario for Rally2Tom Fowler
“This week will be a bit about Monte [Carlo] running,” Fowler said, “but it’s also about a rally scenario for Rally2 cars. It’s a test followed by an event and that’s pretty much how a week rolls in Rally2: you pre-test early in the week: do what’s necessary to tune the car as much as you can in that space of time and then you go and rally it.
“This week is, essentially another part of the simulation for what we’ll see the Rally2 car doing next year.
“An outstanding part of this project is the fact we’re working in customer rather than factory motorsport. The two are very different. For next year, with the GR Yaris Rally2, we will have a much broader picture to look at in terms of customer service.
There’s no precise template for what a customer wants, they will all come with different requests and desires for the car – we have to be flexible and we have to be ready.”
From a personal perspective, Fowler admitted the development process had been slightly different from Rally1.
He added: “From my side, we have a specific team of people responsible for delivering the engineering behind the car – I’m bigger picture more than finer detail. That’s made it a little bit easier, but in the end the ultimate responsibility is mine – so the stress level’s not that different.”