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  Toyota Corolla WRC

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Country of origin:Japan
Produced from:1997 - 1999
Source:Company press release
Last updated:June 18, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionToyota's first WRC car was hailed as the purest and most advanced competition machine to emerge from the TTE workshops when it made its debut in 1997.

Although it carried over some components from its predecessor, the Celica GT-Four, it benefited from an all-new design. It was also the first World Rally Car to feature a transverse-mounted engine.

Its most significant difference to previous rally cars was its compact dimensions: it was not only shorter than the Celica, but also had a narrower track and shorter overhangs front and rear. With a more upright driving position, it was also regarded as being easier to drive, especially on narrow roads. The reduced overhangs allowed a lower ride height to be used on rough surfaces.

Initial concerns that the short wheelbase could compromise handling on fast stages proved unfounded, the car's nimble character being helped by a low centre of gravity. Wind tunnel testing was used to tune the aerodynamics and ensure a consistent balance of downforce front and rear at high and low speeds.

The suspension design featured MacPherson struts front and rear with Öhlins shocks. Xtrac engineered the transmission to TTE specifications, a six-speed sequential system operated electronically by a joystick control on the steering column. The transmission was designed to take almost any kind of differential.

The engine was derived from the proven 2.0-litre turbocharged unit which powered the Celica, retaining the same bore and stroke, producing almost 300bhp and 510Nm of torque.

Development of the car began in 1996 and it made its competition debut on the Indonesian Rally in 1997. It began its WRC campaign on Rally Finland, marking Toyota Castrol Team's return to front-line competition after an absence of more than a year-and-a-half.

In spite of being forced to join the championship earlier than it hoped, the team was buoyed by Marcus Gronholm leading the event in its early stages. Just three events later, at Rally Australia, Didier Auriol took the Corolla to its first podium with a third place finish and in the opening event of the 1998 season, the Monte Carlo Rally, Carlos Sainz powered the car to an emphatic maiden victory.

The year was not to end so happily, Sainz deprived of a driver's championship title just half a kilometre from the end of the final stage of Rally Great Britain - the last of event of the season. To this day, the image of the distraught driver and co-driver with their stricken car remains one of the enduring, though unfortunate images of the Corolla WRC.

Sainz and Toyota were runners-up in drivers' and manufacturers' championships respectively in 1998, but the following year Toyota was again the sport's number one manufacturer. This season marked the end of Toyota's official involvement in the rallying.

The Corolla continued to reap success as a privately-entered contender, notably carrying Jonny Milner to the British Rally Championship title in 2002.

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  Article Image gallery (12) Specifications