This Film Celebrating Toyota’s Triumphant Return to WRC After 18 Years Is a Must-Watch
Documentary takes a behind the scenes look at the 500 days leading up to Toyota’s WRC return.
In 1999, Toyota marked the end of 25 years of continuous appearances in the World Rally Championship—two and a half decades in which the carmaker amassed 43 victories. For a decade, it sat out the famous rally championship. Then Akio Toyoda became president of Toyota in 2009.
See, Toyoda is not a normal automaker president; he's a racer at heart. Toyoda has participated multiple times at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring driving a prototype Lexus LF-A; in the boardroom,h e has been the force behind performance models such as the Lexus IS-F and the Lexus LF-A. After becoming president, Toyoda knew he wanted to return to the World Rally Championship. That journey brought Toyoda to work with four-time WRC champion and WRC legend Tommi Mäkinen.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team was formed with Mäkinen as team leader, and Mäkinen reporting to Toyoda himself. In the documentary below, you see how the team began building a rally car—a Toyota Yaris—and how they grew the team out. As one engineer mentions, they designed the car and created the parts, then they needed to hire people to assemble it. The participants speak about how they got lucky and continually found the right people at the right times, such as acquiring former Volkswagen rally driver Jari-Matti Latvala after Volkswagen memorably pulled out of the World Rally Championship at the exact time the team needed a driver.
The nearly one-hour-long documentary chronicles the team from infancy through the 500 days leading to its World Rally Championship return after a 18-year absence. It's worth a watch.