Toyota is taking the rally-inspired GR Yaris rallying after all
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Toyota's acclaimed GR Yaris became a no-streak homologation special in 2020. The company's Australian division took the opportunity to work with a local team to give the hatchback its 15-minute fame on gravel. It transformed the rally-inspired city car into a full-blown rally car called the GR Yaris Asia-Pacific 4WD (AP4).
Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM) and Toyota Australia worked together on the project, and the automaker proudly noted that its involvement was not limited to providing discounted replacement parts. Product Planning and Development designed the body of the AP4 (including the wider fenders on both axles) and helped shape its aerodynamic profile.
In the meantime, Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe supported NBM in bringing the 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbo engine of the regular GR into line with AP4 regulations. The block, cylinder head, and intake manifold are standard components, but its exhaust manifold and turbocharger are AP4 specific. NBM anticipates the triple of its car will be more powerful than the street-legal model, which produces 268 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. However, the final figures are confidential. The engine turns the four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
Making a rally car out of the GR Yaris was relatively easy as it was designed for racing from the start. Interestingly, the hatchback is too light to keep up. Cars have to tip the scales at 2,177 pounds or more to meet AP4 regulations, and the Yaris weighs less. NBM has to use ballast to make it heavier.
"People often think that a rally car is just a modified road car, but it really is a supercar for the gravel. The building process is identical to that of a supercar," said team manager Neal Bates in a statement.
Toyota's GR Yaris AP4 will compete in the Rally 2 category of the World Rally Championship (WRC). It is slated to make its competitive debut at the Netier National Capital Rally in Canberra, Australia on April 9, 2021. It won't drive in the United States, and the petition asking Toyota to sell the GR Yaris here has yielded no results.
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