Toyota lifts the lid on GR Yaris AP4 rally weapon

Toyota has unveiled the new generation GR Yaris AP4 rally car that Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia (TGRA) will campaign in the 2021 Australian Rally Championship (ARC).

While Toyota has long supported a local factory-backed rally team, this is the first time that the company – through its Product Planning and Development division (PP&D) – has been actively involved in the design of a rally car.

The GR Yaris AP4 is being developed in collaboration with Neal Bates Motorsport (NBM), run by four-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates, who manages the TGRA rally team.

Based on the all-new GR Yaris, the new GR Yaris AP4’s body exterior styling was designed, engineered and fabricated in-house by PP&D in Port Melbourne.

Toyota Australia chief designer Nic Hogios said the GR Yaris AP4 project had been fantastic to work on and really demonstrated the depth of the talented design and engineering team and the advanced design facilities Toyota has to offer.

“Everybody here at Toyota Product Design is absolutely passionate about motorsport and any opportunity we have to be involved in a project like this, we jump at the chance,” Mr Hogios said.

“This project has been amazing to be a part of, as the base car is really exciting in its road car form. So it’s a really great place to start – the GR Yaris is simply bred for rallying,” he said.

Toyota began working with NBM on the new GR Yaris AP4 in March 2020, using virtual reality technology to work through the body design concepts on the new rally car.

Following that, initial sketches were made for components including the front fenders, front and rear bumper pods, rear quarter panels, bonnet vents and mirrors, that were then further refined through digital design.

Mr Hogios said with all the regulations surrounding the AP4 category, it was a very disciplined design process to deliver exactly what the TGRA rally team needed.

“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, it’s all about functional beauty,” he said.

The fibreglass components, carbon fibre roof and aluminium doors have been manufactured and are now with NBM as they begin building the new rally car. Neal Bates said the team is very excited about the car.

“This is going to be one incredibly cool car and both the NBM and Toyota teams have invested huge hours to get it to where we are now and I can’t wait to get into the build and deliver what will be a world-class AP4 rally car,” Mr Bates said.

The NBM team will build two new GR Yaris AP4 cars for the 2021 season for TGRA lead driver Harry Bates and his younger brother Lewis Bates.

Harry and Lewis finished first and second in the Australian Rally Championship in 2019 and with the 2020 season having been cancelled due to COVID-19, Harry said he is looking forward to when the 2021 ARC season kicks off next March in Canberra.

The standard road-going Toyota GR Yaris is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. One of the highest output per litre engines in the world, it churns out 200kW and 370Nm of torque, which are channeled to all four wheels via a new GR-Four permanent all-wheel-drive system.

The dash from zero to 100km/h is accomplished in just 5.2 seconds, making it the fastest compact hot hatch in class.

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