2016 PRESS RELEASE
With the overarching goal of making ever-better cars through motorsport in mind, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team has been working on the development of the Yaris WRC for the past nine months. After a great deal of team effort had been put in, the Yaris WRC enjoyed its first outing this spring on the fast gravel roads of Finland, before heading for southern Europe. This intensive test program has confirmed that the Yaris WRC, which will be competing in the World Rally Championship next season, is a well-designed car.
■Ten test sessions covering some 5,000 kilometers
Bound by utmost secrecy but yet filled with great excitement, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team undertook the very first shakedown of the Yaris WRC in May this year in Puuppola, Finland, which is not far from the team's workshops. This first, highly promising session has since been followed-up with many others. Although the Yaris has now completed over 5,000 kilometres of road testing, it is still in the early stages of its development.
"We have worked hard to be on time" admitted Tommi Mäkinen, Team Principal, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC. "We have completed a lot of test sessions since May, and we have stuck to our schedule. The addition of a second car helped us to up the pace and diversify the development testing. We want to test the vehicle in all conditions and on all surfaces so that we are ready for 2017."
■Two Yaris WRCs for greater efficiency
With the view to fully optimise the development program, a second Yaris WRC was quickly added to the test schedule.
"The reason we are working with two cars is that, we wanted to split development into two parts. The first team works only in Finland, concentrating on the reliability and endurance of the car, with a test program focused on the engine and gearbox. The second test team is focused on the suspension, and is working at the other European bases, such as in Spain and Portugal," explained Tom Fowler, WRC Chief Engineer. "We haven't started testing on tarmac as of yet, but we can already tell that the performance levels of the car are really high. We have been able to work without any major issues so far, and that's very encouraging."
■A strong test driver line-up
Before advanced and refined testing program conducted by the respective drivers can proceed, Tommi Mäkinen, Juho Hanninen and then Jarkko Nikara all had turn in testing the same vehicle individually.
"I just couldn't resist, so I was the first to size up the car!" admitted Tommi Mäkinen. "The feeling was great and it was fun to drive as well. We are also lucky to be able to call upon the experience of Juho Haninnen and Jarkko Nikara. Other drivers are expected to join the development team very shortly," he mentioned.
"The first time I drove the Yaris WRC, I was very impressed!" explained Juho Hanninen, the main test driver for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team. "The handling and balance of the car were perfect; the work done on the design is exceptional. We have wasted no time in racking up the miles because the car has been very reliable from the word go and we've not been held up by any major technical issues. In the initial tests outside of Finland, we have tackled a wide variety of conditions and the performance of the Yaris WRC has been very consistent."
■A passionate team!
Each week, new members join the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC team based in Puuppola, Finland. It's a genuine melting pot of car lovers, featuring no fewer than seven different nationalities, all focused on achieving the same goal.
"I’m very fond of the family-like atmosphere that we have always had at our Puuppola workshops. I have been pleasantly surprised to see that, that even though our facilities have grown and we are now employing more and more people, this working atmosphere remains largely unchanged. There are no language barriers here. The team is very united and everyone does their best without compromise. I think that is one of the essential ingredients in a successful team and I'm pleased to see everybody has adopted the same approach and is pulling towards the same direction," commented a delighted Tommi Mäkinen.
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