Toyota marks its WRC return with the Yaris R1A

Article by Christian A., on August 16, 2012

At the ninth round of the WRC, expect to witness the debut of the Yaris R1A racer production model from Toyota’s new TMG performance division. In rally racing terms, the Yaris is a “Zero Car,” which means that it functions like a “pace car” in track racking. But after it debuts, Toyota will offer Yaris rally cars for sale to private teams that want to compete in the new R1A entry level series to the WRC.

This is equivalent to the B-Spec series in SCCA. This vehicle’s price tag says €22,500 (around $27,500). This means that it’s a budget offering for the class that only permits vehicles with engines 1.4-liters or smaller and minimal revisions. The kit for the Yaris features upgrades such as a racing exhaust system with a racing catalytic converter.

It also includes a shorter final drive gear ratios and a racing suspension with adjustable springs. Its safety features include a bolt-in roll cage, sump guard, and guards for the fuel tank and lines. It has fire extinguishers, rally seats, harnesses and power cut-off switch – which are all mandatory for racing. It is powered by a 1.3-liter engine and some heavy-duty rally parts so it’s not likely to be beating the Yaris Spec-B track racing car that’s currently available.

The new Yaris is set to debut at the ninth round of the WRC, the Rallye Deutschland, which starts from August 24 until the 26th. This marks Toyota’s return to rallying after having left rallying in 1999.

According to TMG President Yoshiaki Kinoshita, the TMG Yaris R1A is totally different from what it had done in the past. This car is exciting and yet, it’s affordable, making the major events in rallying seem accessible to a wide range of participants. He added that the company has already gotten multiple inquiries about this car, indicating that there’s plenty of appeal in rallying for a new Toyota.

Toyota has taken Europe by storm with the Yaris, consistently achieving a segment share of more than 5% over the last decade. The Yaris is considered the “key pillar” to European manufacturing operations and has helped boost Toyota’s image in the said continent. And now, it will continue to do so with the introduction of the third-generation Yaris.

The B-segment is the most important sales arena in the European automotive market, owning up to 26% of the total market share (or yearly sales of 4 million), and two-thirds of the population dominated by petrol-engined vehicles. This segment is exactly where the Toyota Yaris aims to dominate.

There has been an increasing diversity of new model types like SUVs and B-MPVs over the years, which is why there is an increased fragmentation within the B-segment. However, this does not stop the hatchback from taking 50% of the total sales, making it the most important and best-selling bodystyle in the whole segment. Moreover, sales have remained stable for the B-segment regardless of the increase in fuel costs and downsizing pressures due to CO2 taxation levels (both of which have posed threats in other segments).

The second-generation Toyota Yaris impressed customers with its spacious interior, durability, versatility, engine efficiency and ease of driving especially in highly urbanized places. The strengths of the previous generation will be carried over into the new Yaris while featuring a more dynamic and sophisticated design execution, an improvement sensory quality, breakthrough in affordable media connectivity, efficient powertrains, advanced transmission systems, and improved agility that will be essential when driving around urbanized environments.

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