Toyota CEO Promises WRC Driver-Inspired Hot Hatches

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Toyota is also investing more in grassroots rally racing.

Akio Toyoda, the beloved CEO of Toyota, recently hosted a panel discussion and leaked several exciting pieces of racing-related information. Down below the stage, a PR person died of a heart attack as Toyoda announced a potential future GR Yaris Kalle Rovanpera Edition.

First, some context. Kalle Rovanpera recently became the youngest-ever driver to win the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at 22 years old, beating heavy hitters like Loeb, Solberg, Neuville, and Ogier. A special edition in his honor would be akin to the Mistubishi Lancer Evos of old, which included a Tommi Makinen Edition as part of the Evo VI generation.

In mid-November 2022, the final stage of the WRC took place in Japan, after which Toyota Gazoo Racing remained behind for another weekend of fun celebrating the brand. It's the same as Honda Racing Thank You Day, giving the fans a closer look at Toyota's famous racing department.

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Several high-profile people were in attendance, including Toyota Rally Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala and drivers Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta. Akio Toyoda hosted a panel with the three men, including Takamoto's father, who also happens to be a nine-time Japanese regional champion.

The Toyota Times, the manufacturer's in-house magazine, was on the scene and published the panel's contents, right down to the unplanned unveiling of the more hardcore GR Yaris.

We know that Toyota was already working on a 300-horsepower GR Yaris, which matches the output of the GR Corolla. The latter is already an absolute riot to drive, so imagine what the turbocharged triple would feel like in a car that weighs 427 pounds less. Unfortunately, the GR Yaris is not available in the USA.

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Toyoda also revealed the details of the so-called Morizo Challenge. In case you're not aware, Akio Toyoda used to race under the pseudonym "Morizo," which is where the GR Corolla Morizo's name comes from. As an obviously competitive man, he wanted to know whether he was faster than the man managing his team, Latvala.

The two men used GR86s, and Latvala lost by 0.9 seconds. In Latvala's defense, Toyoda admitted that he knew the track and drove it multiple times while developing the GR Yaris.

During the discussion, Toyoda also mentioned the development of the Rally 2 GR Yaris, explicitly designed for privateers who want to enter the bottom end of the sport. He also spoke of a "two-pedal" rally car, but don't expect anything on the production side. Toyoda mentioned that it's being developed to make it easier for more people to get into grassroots rallying.

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