The GAZOO Racing (GR) World Rally Team (WRT) completed a strong debut event for the new GR YARIS Rally1 recently, with Sébastien Ogier claiming second place overall at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo. Ogier, who was chasing a record-extending ninth win together with new co-driver Benjamin Veillas, gave his all in the final stage to finish just 10.5 seconds from victory in the No. 1 GR YARIS Rally1.
GAZOO Racing World Rally Team began a bold new hybrid electric era in the FIA World Rally Championship as the 2022 season commenced in Monaco. Toyota’s new vehicle, the GR YARIS Rally1, is the successor to the all-conquering Yaris WRC, which achieved a clean sweep of the manufacturers’, drivers’, and co-drivers’ championship titles during the 2021 season. The hybrid electric vehicle consists of a 3.9kWh battery and motor-generator unit delivering an additional 134 hp combined with the proven 1.6-litre turbocharged engine from the Yaris WRC to provide the drivers with over 500 hp. It runs on 100% sustainable fuel and is the first of its kind to be used in an FIA world championship.
All three of the team’s drivers claimed stage wins in their new vehicles, which made the GR YARIS Rally1 the fastest vehicle on nine of the 17 stages. It demonstrated both impressive performance and reliability despite the challenges of the new Rally1 regulations, which introduce hybrid electric power to rallying’s top level for the first time. In Monaco to join the team and witness the GR YARIS Rally1’s debut was Kazuki Nakajima, the recently-appointed Vice Chairman of GAZOO Racing Europe.
Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, commented: “It was so close for Séb to achieve his ninth victory in Rallye Monte-Carlo. His driving feeling with our new vehicle, the GR YARIS Rally1, seemed to be good. I would like to express my respect to the leadership of the FIA, WRC Promoter, and all others involved in the preparations to help this historic and traditional World Rally Championship move toward the realization of carbon neutrality with electrified cars and new fuel.”
Toyoda continued: “The GR Yaris is a production sports car that we, Toyota, made by ourselves to win in motorsports. The car has finally started the real competition stage now. I’m so glad, and I would like to thank everyone who has worked together with me to build GR Yaris. The season has just begun and I believe we can continue the good work together. To the fans, I appreciate your continued support for the GAZOO Racing World Rally Team this season. Thank you so much!”
Sébastien Ogier, Driver of the No. 1 Toyota GR YARIS Rally1, said: “It has been a huge joy to compete in this special rally again and be in this incredible fight. We have done a great performance over the weekend and there were no issues with the car, which is a fantastic achievement. Fate decided differently today, but I’m still smiling, and I still enjoyed this fight very much. It’s been a good weekend for the sport.”
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 motorsport’s 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 various motorsports events, GR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
The second race of the 2022 FIA WRC championship, Rally Sweden, will be held from 24 – 28 February and is the only full winter event of the season taking place on snow and ice. The rally moves further north to a new base in Umeå this year, meaning all of the stages will be new to the drivers. Metal studs inserted into the tires bite into the ice to provide grip and allow for some of the highest speeds of the year.