Does Toyota's return signal a new 'Golden Age' in WRC?
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Toyota release latest video update for promising 2017 Yaris WRC
Levels of Kiwi interest in the World Rally Championship in recent years have shot through the roof.
Now obviously the success and lobbying of one Hayden Paddon has probably had something to do with that, but I don’t think that it’s the sole reason for this surge.
For years, the sport was dominated by the might of Sébastien Loeb and Citroën — and the sport subsequently suffered to grab the headlines and mainstream interest it had done in the past. It’s a touchy topic to talk about; whether forms of motorsport should step in when one group is performing so much better than their peers.
On one hand the ‘show’ suffers and the sport become predictable, on the other what kind of message does one send out when they hobble those who achieve the success they proudly boast simply because they do a better job than everyone else?
Loeb eventually retired from the WRC in search of a new challenge, and the series has since been rebuilding itself. And now, I think it’s in a fantastic place. This season has had six different rally winners from seven events, and those winners are spread out over three different manufacturers. Formula 1 would kill for those kinds of numbers.
What’s sure to add to the spectacle for next season is the return of Toyota, after an 18-year hiatus from the WRC with their new Yaris WRC and the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team. Their latest video above goes some way to showing just how serious they’re taking this whole thing. The Yaris is growing closer and closer to completion, with the team having already put it through more than 5,000km of testing. Drivers are yet to be confirmed, though the team are known to have shown an interest in that Loeb bloke I mentioned earlier.
The Yaris itself is a rolling piece of metal and carbon origami, with winglets and spoilers mounted all over the place. It’s a legacy of the next wave of regulations — and if you’re not a fan, then you’re definitely not going to approve of what the rest of the new factory efforts from the likes of Volkswagen, Ford, Hyundai, and Citroën are going to look like.
Fingers crossed that the Yaris does well. But just, not too well.