Toyota Australia is throwing its considerable weight behind a factory rally operation, set to run two Yaris AP4 cars in the Australian Rally Championship (ARC).
The new team will debut at Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour this weekend, with Harry Bates behind the wheel and John McCarthy in the co-driver's hot seat. A second factory-backed car will join the team, driven by Lewis Bates, next year.
Harry Bates is the son of four-time Australian Rally Champion, and local motorsport legend, Neal Bates. He's been running a Yaris AP4 as a privateer up until now.
"Toyota has always recognised the value of participating in motorsport as a means of developing ever more durable, reliable and exciting cars," said Wayne Gabriel, Toyota Australia chief marketing officer.
"This is a philosophy that underpins Toyota Gazoo Racing that runs the global motorsports program - including the leading World Rally Championship team - which in turn, feeds into its development of our new sports and performance cars."
"Australians have long had an enthusiastic appetite for motorsport and performance cars and we are committed to delivering the excitement they offer through initiatives like the new rally team we are launching today," he added.
The Yaris AP4 makes around 220kW and 420Nm from its turbo-boosted 1.6-litre displacement. That's almost three times what's offered in the standard car, despite a 34mm restrictor plate in the massive turbocharger.
Power is put to all four wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission, a significant switch from the four-speed automatic and front-wheel drive offered in the standard car. You also get a hydraulic handbrake for maximum slide-ability.
Rally Australia runs November 15-18 in Coffs Harbour.