WRC (World Rally Championship) began in 1973, unifying numerous rally events held independently around the world into a single series to create a world championship. Toyota cars have competed in this, the world’s greatest rally series, from the beginning. Up to the present day, we have continued to compete in WRC as a proving ground for making ever-better cars. Here we would like to trace the major events in WRC history as we look back on the Toyota rally cars that challenged roads and rivals around the world.
Founding of WRC (World Rally Championship)
The memorable first round is held at the now traditional Rallye Monte Carlo. Jean-Claude Andruet in his Alpine-Renault A110 becomes the first WRC winner.
First WRC victory for a WRC Toyota car early on
[Event] 1973 WRC Round 11 Press-on-Regardless Rally (USA) / [Winner] Walter Boyce (Canadian privateer) / [Car] Group 2 Corolla TE20 (equipped with the 2T-G engine)
Mitsubishi Lancer wins Safari Rally
[Event] 1974 WRC Round 2 East African Safari Rally (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) / [Winner] Joginder Singh / [Car] Group 2 Mitsubishi Lancer 1600GSR
First WRC win for the legendary Lancia Stratos
[Event] 1974 WRC Round 4 Rallye Sanremo (Italy) / [Winner] Sandro Munari
Lancia wins 3 consecutive WRC manufacturers’ titles thanks to the Stratos’ performance.
First WRC win for Toyota’s official team
[Event] 1975 WRC Round 7 1000 Lakes Rally (Finland) / [Winner] Hannu Mikkola / [Car] Group 4 Corolla Levin TE27
Debut of Group 4 Celica RA20
[Event] 1976 WRC Round 3 Rally of Portugal / [Driver] Ove Andersson
Debut of Group 4 Celica RA40
[Event] 1980 WRC Round 3 Rally of Portugal / [Driver] Ove Andersson, Jean-Luc Thérier
First appearance of the Audi Quattro
[Event] 1981 WRC Round 1 Rallye Monte Carlo / [Driver] Hannu Mikkola, Michèle Mouton
Mouton wins this year’s WRC Round 10 Rallye Sanremo (Italy) driving the Quattro, becoming the first female WRC winner.
1-2 finish for Group 4 Celica RA63 in debut event
[Event] 1982 WRC Round 7 Motogard Rally (New Zealand) / [Driver] Björn Waldegård (Winner), Per Eklund (2nd)
Group B becomes the top category
With a complete overhaul of the rally car vehicle regulations scheme, Group B replaces Group 4 as the top category.
First WRC win for Celica Twin Cam Turbo TA64
[Event]1983 WRC Round 11 Ivory Coast Rally (Côte d'Ivoire) / [Winner] Björn Waldegård / [Car] Group B Celica Twin Cam Turbo TA64
Toyota wins first Safari Rally
[Event] 1984 WRC Round 4 Safari Rally (Kenya) / [Winner] Björn Waldegård / [Car] Group B Celica Twin Cam Turbo TA64
Toyota wins the Safari Rally in 3 consecutive years with the same car (1985 Winner: Juha Kankkunen, 1986 Winner: Waldegård).
Group A becomes the top category
Group A becomes the WRC’s top category after Group B is cancelled following a succession of serious accidents caused by excessive speed.
The Lancia Delta wins in its debut, going on to dominate the first half of the Group A era.
Debut of Group A Supra 3.0i MA70
[Event] 1987 WRC Round 4 Safari Rally (Kenya) / [Driver] Björn Waldegård, Lars-Erik Torph, Robin Ulyate
First WRC win for the Group A Celica GT-Four ST165
[Event] 1989 WRC Round 10 Rally Australia / [Winner] Juha Kankkunen
First Toyota driver becomes WRC champion
[Event] 1990 WRC Round 10 Rallye Sanremo / [Champion] Carlos Sainz / [Car] Group A Celica GT-Four ST165
Kenjiro Shinozuka becomes first Japanese WRC winner
[Event] 1991 WRC Round 12 Rally Côte d’Ivoire / [Car] Group A Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
Limited edition Celica GT-Four Carlos Sainz Limited Edition released with worldwide run of 5,000
To enhance the rally car's competitive performance, this limited edition car is equipped with an exclusive turbo and intercooler, etc., different to the standard Celica GT-Four. Sold under the name ‘Celica GT-Four Carlos Sainz Limited Edition,’ it was an epoch-making production model named in honour of the rally driver.
First WRC win for the Group A Celica GT-Four ST185
[Event] 1992 WRC Round 4 Safari Rally (Kenya) / [Winner] Carlos Sainz
Toyota wins the Safari Rally in 4 consecutive years with the same car (1993 Winner: Juha Kankkunen, 1994 Winner: Ian Duncan, 1995 Winner: Yoshiro Fujimoto).
Carlos Sainz wins second WRC drivers’ title for Toyota
[Event] 1992 WRC Final Round RAC Rally (UK) / [Champion] Carlos Sainz / [Car] Group A Celica GT-Four ST185
Toyota wins first WRC manufacturers’ title
[Event] 1993 WRC Round 10 Rally Australia / [Car] Group A Celica GT-Four ST185
In November, Juha Kankkunen clinches the fourth WRC championship for Toyota overall. Toyota wins both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.
Toyota wins second consecutive WRC manufacturers’ title
[Event] 1994 WRC Round 8 1000 Lakes Rally (Finland) / [Driver] Carlos Sainz, Didier Auriol / [Car] Group A Celica GT-Four ST185
In November, Auriol clinches WRC championship. Auriol becomes the third WRC champion for Toyota.
Debut of Group A Celica GT-Four ST205
[Event] 1994 W2L (2-Litre World Rally Cup) Round 5 Rally Australia / [Driver] Juha Kankkunen
“Sega Rally Championship” is released.
A racing game based on WRC, “Sega Rally Championship” contributes to the increasing popularity of rallying. The appearance of the Celica GT-Four ST185 and Lancia Delta HF Integrale under both their real names and in works rally car color schemes is also much commented upon.
Yoshiro Fujimoto wins Safari Rally in a Celica
[Event] 1995 W2L (2-Litre World Rally Cup) Round 1 Safari Rally / [Car] Group A Celica GT-Four ST185
World Rally Car becomes the top category
Regarded as the successor to Group A, World Rally Car is born as the new top category of rally cars.
Subaru wins third consecutive WRC manufacturers’ title
[Event] 1997 WRC Round 13 Rally Australia / [Driver] Colin McRae, Kenneth Eriksson, Piero Liatti / [Car] Subaru Impreza WRC’97
Corolla WRC wins first victory at traditional opening round in Monte Carlo
[Event] 1998 WRC Round 1 Rallye Monte Carlo / [Winner] Carlos Sainz
Mitsubishi wins first WRC Manufacturers’ Championship
[Event] 1998 WRC Final Round Rally Great Britain / [Driver] Tommi Mäkinen, Richard Burns / [Car] Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V
Toyota wins third WRC manufacturers’ title
[Event] 1999 WRC Round 13 Rally Australia / [Driver] Carlos Sainz, Didier Auriol / [Car] Corolla WRC
Tommi Mäkinen wins unprecedented fourth consecutive WRC championship
[Event] 1999 WRC Round 13 Rally Australia / [Car] Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI
Toyota temporarily withdraws from WRC with this year
First WRC event is held in Japan
Rally Japan is held in Hokkaido as 2004 WRC Round 11. The winner is Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza WRC2004).
Toshihiro Arai becomes first Japanese world champion
Driving the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Toshihiro Arai secures the series title in PWRC (Production car World Rally Championship), contested by Group N rally cars with limited modifications. Arai wins the championship again in 2007, becoming champion for the second time.
Sébastien Loeb sets the monumental record of nine consecutive WRC championships
[Event] 2012 WRC Round 11 Rallye de France / [Car] Citroen DS3 WRC
Toyota returns to WRC. Debut of Yaris WRC
[Event] 2017 WRC Round 1 Rallye Monte Carlo / [Driver] Jari-Matti Latvala, Juho Hänninen
First WRC win for Yaris WRC in Round 2 debut
[Event] 2017 WRC Round 2 Rally Sweden / [Winner] Jari-Matti Latvala