Toyota Australia has revealed its GR Yaris AP4 rally car.
It has been developed and built in-conjunction with factory-backed outfit Neal Bates Motorsport, who competes in the Australian Rally Championship as the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia rally team.
The rally car is set to debut in the 2021 Australian Rally Championship season, where two examples will be campaigned by Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia factory drivers and siblings, Harry and Lewis Bates.
The GR Yaris AP4 rally car project started in March 2020. Toyota Australia's product team, and its factory-backed rally team, began using virtual reality technology to experiment with exterior design concepts.
Afterwards, individual components were further refined via computer-aided design, with each meeting strict AP4 rally regulations.
“Everybody here at Toyota Product Design is absolutely passionate about motorsport,” said Toyota Australia's chief designer, Nic Hogios.
"There are no compromises, it’s a race car. It’s not here for styling, although we wanted to make it look as good as possible and that is part of the GR philosophy,” concluded Hogios.
Once the design had been approved, parts were fabricated in-house by Toyota Australia, and then supplied to Neal Bates Motorsport.
Neal Bates Motorsport is currently building two cars, both of which started life as factory-specification GR Yaris production cars.
The rally car's powertrain looks to remain the same as its road-going equivalent, however neither Toyota Australia nor Neal Bates Motorsport mentions whether any engine modifications have been carried out.
“I’ve had an exciting career with Toyota and motorsport for over 30 years and the new GR Yaris is remarkable in its performance and race capability,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia and Neal Bates Motorsport chief, Neal Bates.
“It gives us an amazing platform to start with. We have got a carbon fibre roof, we’ve got aluminium doors, we’ve got the lightest and most powerful three-cylinder turbo mass production engine in the world, we’ve got an incredibly wide stance, and all-wheel drive - it’s literally made to be rallied." added Bates.
In a turn of events, the GR Yaris WRC program has been cancelled largely as a result of the financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
That means the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia GR Yaris AP4 rally car may be one of the few occasions we see a factory-backed GR Yaris in competition.
The 2021 Australian Rally Championship kicks off in March 2021, with the first round taking place in the Bates family's home town of Canberra.