There have been rumors of Toyota returning to the World Rally Championship since the end of 2013, and a Yaris prepped by Toyota Motorsport in Germany has been caught on The Continent several times last year in testing. Akio Toyoda visited Rally Finland while we were there with Hyundai to watch a race up close, and he said that the passion people still had for Toyota's past exploits encouraged him. He finally answered the question about when they planned to enter the series, announcing in Tokyo that they'd line up for the season in 2017.

The Japanese company, a legend in rallying, got into the sport in 1979 and left in 1999 after winning seven titles in ten years through the nineties with Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen. The 2017 return is likely due to the regulation changes that year to allow more power than the roughly 300-horsepower in today's challengers and the switch to a fuel-flow formula to let manufacturers use different kinds of engines. Toyota has been sitting in on the WRC rules meetings, and the final slate of changes will be announced at the end of this year.

The Yaris that's been testing is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder that meets current regulations, but we can expect it to change somewhat before it's race-ready. TMG will test the car for the next two years, then it will go up against fellow manufacturers Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Citroën, as well as Fords run by M-Sport. There's video of the Yaris running solo through the Belgian countryside above, and a gallery of the coming car below.

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