Toyota GAZOO Racing will enter improved cars in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and also the Lexus LC flagship coupe, which will contest the 46th running of the Nurburgring 24 Hours in May, its first appearance in the event.
The World Rally Team has improved the cars for its second championship season which begins with the famed Rallye Monte Carlo on January 25. Toyota GAZOO Racing has refined its WRC cars, based on what it learnt last year and have incorporated new developments at its base in Finland and engine centre in Cologne, Germany.
The turbocharged Yaris WRC cars have better aerodynamic balance and upgraded engine cooling – features that have been fully tested in Europe. A revised front aero package for 2018 includes a new bumper and fenders, to better balance the car by increasing front downforce. The updated cooling system help in the hotter rallies of the 13-event 2018 WRC calendar which concludes in November with Rally Australia.
Strengthening the driver line-up is Estonia’s 2-time WRC event winner Ott Tanak, who joins Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi who were victorious in Sweden and Finland, respectively, during the debut season of the rally team.
Toyota’s return to world rallying saw it finish third in the manufacturer’s championship, with Latvala fourth in the drivers’ standings. Team principal Tommi Makinen said the team is ready to build on its pleasing first season.
“We saw last year that the Toyota Yaris WRC was already capable of winning rallies,” he said. “This was a great achievement by the team, but the competition also allowed us to discover areas where we can improve. With more time and learning, we have been able to update the aerodynamics and improve the engine cooling. I’m very excited that we’re going to keep learning this year, as part of our mission to make ever-better cars.”
Toyota GAZOO Racing has been competing at the Nurburgring 24 Hours for 12 consecutive years. It has collected multiple class victories with the LFA supercar and similar success for the RC F in 2016. Lexus regards the race as the ideal place to work on refining its people and its cars because it features some of the world’s most gruelling conditions with harsh elevation changes and frequent rough road surfaces, as well as those experienced on normal roads.
In 2018, the Lexus LC will be competing for the first time. This car has been refined to race specifications by Toyota’s mechanics and engineers, and incorporates advanced development technologies destined for future production models.
The model, introduced as a road car last year, has body technologies to reduce weight and increase rigidity as well as methods to provide driver assistance, such as enhancing visibility. It also features new aerodynamic measures, engine development to reduce friction and improve fuel economy, and suspension designs that are lighter, stronger and more responsive.