WRC stars take on Goodwood in Toyota’s homologation special

The GR Yaris is a throwback to rally specials of yesteryear – and Toyota's WRC drivers love it

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Toyota’s World Rally Championship leader Elfyn Evans has just decided on his next company car. It wasn’t a difficult choice.

He’ll have a GR Yaris, please? Color? Who cares.

The Welshman joined Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke at Goodwood last week to demonstrate what the new car’s all about. It’s fair to say, he loved it.

“Any road car you can drift and donut like that is fine by me,” Evans told DirtFish. “It was such a lot of fun. I’ve driven a few hot-hatches in my time, but the Yaris really is something special.

“It genuinely has the kind of raw feel of a rally car – not least because you can adjust so many of the settings, including the torque split, the dampers, all sorts. It’s mega!”

Asked if he’d lined his up yet, he replied: “No, but I’m going to talk to somebody about that!”

The response to Toyota’s lively road car addition was the same from Latvala, who reckoned the standard GR Yaris wouldn’t disgrace itself on national-level rallies.

“When you turn off all the stability control and things like that, it’s incredible,” said Latvala. “It’s so much fun, but at the same time, you have to be careful with it! It has really good power (260bhp) from the engine, but what I really like is the response from it – so good. For sure, on smaller rallies, this car could go very well.

“And it’s really nice to have another proper homologation special. I remember some of the great homologation specials from before – the sedan cars like the Carlos Sainz edition Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD and, of course, all the Subarus and Ford Escort Cosworths. But it’s been a long time since we saw a car like this one, a car which has some genuine roots in the rallysport.

“The nice thing is that Toyota has really done the job with this car. It’s not like it has some stickers on and maybe some small parts different. This feels like a rally cars and the front end of the car is very, very like the rally car – the bumper and the cooling package at the front of the car will be the same like on the rally car. That’s how close this GR Yaris is to the Yaris World Rally Car. I like that.”

And Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda likes Goodwood and his GR Yaris.

Toyoda said: “For car lovers like us, there is no better place to be than Goodwood. It’s a feast for all the senses and even though we may not be able to smell the gasoline this year, thanks to the imagination of the Duke of Richmond, we still get to see and hear many fantastic new cars, including a favorite of mine, this new Toyota GR Yaris.

“This is the production version of our Yaris WRC race car which we drove straight to the winners’ circle in 2019, making us the current WRC champion! In truth, we participate in motorsports like WRC because we learn so much about how to make our cars more dynamic and fun to drive.

“In my role as master driver for Toyota, I was personally involved in the creation and tuning of this new GR Yaris, alongside our Gazoo team member the great Tommi Mäkinen.”

Words:David Evans