Toyota has unveiled its GR Yaris Rally1 World Rally Championship challenger, featuring a new hybrid set-up that complies with the dramatic 2022 changes to the competition.
Running a hybrid unit with a 3.9kWh battery and electric motor delivering an additional 133bhp under acceleration, the Toyota’s first competitive outing is at the Monte Carlo Rally that starts on 20 January.
There are further mechanical and aero changes for 2022. The cars’ wings have been trimmed, a five-speed mechanical gearbox is now required (last year was a 6-spd hydraulic shift) and the active centre differential has been removed. The front and rear mechanical diffs remain.
The Toyota GR Yaris petrol powertrain is carried over, with the team running last season’s 1.6-litre turbo that, combined with the new hybrid, gives a system output of more than 500bhp, but it now runs on sustainable fuel. Torque is now claimed to be over 369lb ft, a handy boost from last year’s 312lb ft. The spaceframe chassis set-up remains.
With the rule changes potentially promising a shake-up to the recent Toyota dominance, it’s an interesting time for rallying, one that’s made all the more intriguing in Monte Carlo with the presence of nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb.
As Toyota team boss Jari-Matti Latvala highlights: “There are a lot of question marks and Rallye Monte-Carlo will be giving us some of the answers. As a team we have been working very hard to be ready, but nobody can know how the different cars compare against each other until we get to the first rally. We might also see a difference between the drivers who feel the most confident with their new cars and those who will still be finding that confidence. There are a lot of changes for them to adapt to with how they drive and set up the cars.”
Off the back of a clean sweep of manufacturers’ and drivers’ world rally titles in 2021, Toyota’s driver line-up has been tweaked for 2022 following the partial retirement of reigning champion Sébastien Ogier. Eight-time champion Ogier will still compete at the Monte, but is only running at selected rounds over the rest of the season. Ogier’s potential battle with Loeb in his Ford M-Sport Puma could be one of the highlights of the 2022 motorsport season, and we’re only in January.
Elfyn Evans, who has run Ogier close for the past two seasons, starts 2022 as the nominal team leader at Toyota, with youngster Kalle Rovanperä in the second car.