Toyota may have canned the WRC version of the GR Yaris, but that hasn’t stopped others prepping rally-spec examples of the hot hatch for other series. Cusco - which has already revealed a 2JZ-spec drift-spec GR Yaris - will be running one of these cars in the Japanese Rally Championship, and in Australia, similar plans are afoot.
Toyota and Neal Bates Motorsport are busying developing a GR Yaris to the Australian Rally Championship’s ‘AP4’ regulations. The car has been shown in render form for the first time, and it looks smashing.
Designs were tinkered with in VR before being signed off and converted into CAD data, which Toyota Australia’s Product Planning and Development department fed to CNC machines to create the moulds for the car’s various fibreglass panels.
NBM has been fielding a previous-generation Yaris AP4 in the championship over the last few years. It was a much harder starting point, requiring the addition of all-wheel drive and the installation of a bigger engine. The GR, on the other hand, requires a lot less work.
“It gives us an amazing platform to start with. We have got a carbon fibre roof, we’ve got aluminium doors, we’ve got the lightest and most powerful three-cylinder turbo mass production engine in the world, we’ve got an incredibly wide stance, and all-wheel drive - it’s literally made to be rallied,” explains team founder and four-time Australian rally champ Neal Bates.
The car has the ideal powerplant for the regulations, which limits competitors to 1.6 litres of displacement. The stock output of 257bhp should already bring the car close to the maximum permitted AP4 power-to-weight ratio, which is the same as it is in R5. A light fettle, and the inline-three will be good to go.
It’ll be a proper family affair, with Neal’s sons Harry and Lewis driving the two GR Yaris AP4s NBM is building for the 2021 season. Harris and Lewis finished first and second in the Australian Rally Championship last year, with the former denied the chance to defend his title in 2020 due to the Covid-forced cancellation of the season.
The 2021 season begins next March in Canberra.