Toyota’s perceived México update isn’t one at all

Rumor swirled that the GR Yaris Rally1 had been updated, but actually Toyota was just being clever


Toyota’s test car sent the rally world into something of a spin in Spain last week. No sooner had the GR Yaris Rally1 been seen on the gravel for the first time in 2023 shape, than theories and thinking were delivered on the car’s new front end.

Toyota technical director Tom Fowler found himself tagged on a variety of hypotheticals on how a revised cooling and aero package (see below) was going to help deliver a second successive win for the Japanese manufacturer in León.

The reality is considerably more mundane.

Asked for insight into what the revisions meant, Fowler smiled: “Do you want the technical answer?

“In Spain its eight degrees. In México it’s 30 degrees. It’s a way of making the car hotter.

“Along with some other restrictors on the engine, we cover up a load of air intakes and make the car believe it’s up a mountain in México when it’s not.

“I did seem some [social media] talking about a new front aero device. It made me smile.”

A testing ban outside of Europe means the teams are forced to get creative when it comes to the season’s first longhaul in México. The heat, combined with the season’s highest altitude, complicates this process. There’s no shortage of high-altitude gravel in Europe, but at this time of the year it’s usually, well, eight degrees…

Fowler continued: “It’s always quite tricky to find anything hot enough at this time of the year, where the road is also suitable. It’s a compromise between road condition and character and ambient temperature and pressure. You can’t have the altitude, the temperature and the road condition you want all at the same time and stay in Europe.

“Basically you take what you can get. In this case we’ve been more concentrating on the road itself and dealing with the what the weather conditions will bring.”


The road beneath the wheels is one area where you can’t really fool the car.

“With the blanking [on the air intakes] and other countermeasures we can make the car believe it’s somewhere else. And the road on the test was quite OK. We obviously work on the engine as well – the car was artificially detuned to approximate the 2700 meters in height we’ll see at the top of México.

“México runs from 2000 to 2700 meters, so we gave the drivers something somewhere in the middle to demonstrate the performance they’ll have.”

Words:David Evans