The GAZOO Racing World Rally Team scored another double-podium finish recently in the 2022 season of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at Ypres Rally Belgium, as Elfyn Evans finished just five seconds from victory to claim second place in the No. 33 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle, while Esapekka Lappi took third in the No. 4 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle. The farmland roads of the West Flanders region lived up to their reputation as one of rallying’s most demanding asphalt tests, with frequent surface changes and little margin for error.
Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin held third place at the end of day one in the No. 33 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle, before fighting back during day two to finish second. Despite continuing to close the gap on the leader with two stage wins on the third and final morning, they ultimately finished the race in second place. Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm scored their third podium from six starts with a consistent and clean weekend in the No. 4 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 Hybrid Electric Vehicle. The result ensures Toyota continues to enjoy a strong lead of 88 points in the manufacturers’ championship.
The public debut of the innovative GR Yaris H2 concept also took place in Belgium, and was completed by Toyota rally legend Juha Kankkunen driving the Power Stage ahead of the competitive field in the hydrogen-fueled vehicle. After driving the GR Yaris H2 himself on Saturday, Toyota Motor Corporation President and GAZOO Racing Team Founder Akio Toyoda had the chance to ride alongside Kankkunen on the most varied stage of the weekend before greeting his drivers at the podium.
Akio Toyoda commented: “First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to the mechanics. Thanks to them and all involved, I was able to see all four cars of TGR running up close. Also, thanks to the support and cooperation of many parties such as FIA, WRC Promotor, and the organizer, we were able to let WRC fans hear the exhaust sound of a hydrogen engine. Motorsport is really a sport, and I believe people get excited because sports stimulate our five senses. While we are trying to achieve carbon neutrality, we still want to keep the excitement. It was great that we were able to share that feeling with the fans in Europe.”
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GR to consolidate all of its motorsports activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ GR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of motorsports events, GR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
The next event on the calendar is the Acropolis Rally in Greece, which takes place in the second week of September. The rally returned to the WRC calendar in 2021 after a gap of eight years, and has a legendary reputation for rocky mountain roads and high temperatures that combine to create a tough challenge for the cars, tires, and drivers.