Why the Yaris Rally2 should be a game-changer

Toyota’s all-new second-tier challenger is set to break cover in Monte Carlo. The world will be watching…


Not long now. Not long until we see just how much Toyota’s rivals really have to fear. Not long now until we see just how fast the GR Yaris Rally2 really is.

Toyota knows. As a team, they’re pretending they don’t. They’re telling us they don’t. But they do. Was that a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 taking shelter beneath a dust sheet in a not very dusty corner of TGR’s Jyväskylä workshop? Yes it was.

They’ve back-to-backed it, they’ve done the delta against Rally1. They know what they’ve got.

But still, talk to Jari-Matti Latvala, to Tom Fowler, to all of them, and there’s a pause, a breath. You just don’t know.

“We just have to wait,” said Latvala. “We are very interested to find out.”

On paper, this really should be the car that takes Rally2 to the next level. It’s a homologation special. Remember them? Remember Ford’s Escort RS Cosworth or Mitsubishi’s myriad of Lancer Evolutions and Toyota’s own special Group A Celicas?

Rally Monte Carlo (MC) 22-27 01 1994

These were road cars built for competition. Selling them would be nice, but that wasn’t the priority. I know, the irony. Can you imagine not wanting to buy a Lancia Delta HF Integrale?

The GR Yaris Rally2 represents a real sea change. The rest of the metal in the Rally2 pack was lifted from the production line, then worked on.

The Yaris went to the production line with one thing in mind: setting about the stages in the best and fastest possible fashion. It’s why the roofline is lower, it’s sprinkled with carbon fiber and designed to just about perfect dimensions.

The GR Yaris is born to rally and that’s something that’s got to be keeping more than a few folk in Mladá Boleslav, Vélizy and Cockermouth awake at night right now.

Then there’s the three-cylinder engine and its tremendous – and enviable – torque curve. But what about the top end? What about when they leave the small roads behind and head out onto Finland’s big, wide stages? How will they stack up against the more conventional four-pot rivals?

Building excitement is nothing new in the WRC’s second tier. Remember when Volkswagen Motorsport pulled out of the WRC and all the brain power and engineering ability that had carried Hannover’s finest Polo to four straight world titles was turned on an R5 car? Everybody wanted one.

Oliver Solberg

It was the same a couple of years ago when Škoda’s Fabia RS Rally2 broke cover. With Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen pounding out mile after mile after mile on every surface imaginable, this was going to be the car to have. And it was.

M-Sport’s steady development of its Fiesta Rally2 through last year has built the Blue Oval back to a position of power in WRC2, but it’s the Yaris that the world awaits right now.

And rightly so. Toyota is the current dominant force in world rallying. The GR Yaris Rally1 is the fastest and most reliable rally car of the modern era. It’s fair to expect some of those genes to be found in the champ’s younger sibling. It’s a car 18 months in the making, a car which has sent demand spiraling around the world.

We can expect four of them in Monte Carlo next month, all in the hands of capable, current and very competitive drivers like Sami Pajari, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Stéphane Lefebvre.

But what can it do? Not long now.