A former works rally driver for the likes of Mini, Saab and Lancia, Ove Andersson set up his own rally team during the early 1970s. Originally based in his native Uppsala, Sweden, Andersson Motorsport introduced Toyota to the rally world. With support from Japan, Andersson prepared and rallied Celicas. Soon after it was established the team moved to Brussels and towards the end of the decade to Cologne. It was aptly dubbed Toyota Team Europe and remained responsible for the Japanese manufacturer's rallying efforts. Although he remained team principle, Andersson was eventually bought out and the company was renamed once more to Toyota Motorsport GmbH or TMG. This also marked a diversification in the team's activities, which included the development of a brand new GT1 Le Mans car in 1998. Soon after, TMG would be tasked with running Toyota's Formula 1 team. The cars were designed and built in-house in the ever expanding TMG facility in Cologne. Founder Andersson remained team principle until 2003 and following his retirement, he continued to serve as a consultant. The former winner of the Monte Carlo, Safari, Acropolis and San Remo rallies sadly died in 2008 during a historic rally in South Africa.
World Rally Championship
While not instant winners, the early Celicas driven by Andersson in the World Rally Championship (WRC) were certainly competitive. During the WRC's inaugural, 1973 season, Andersson finished on the podium no fewer than seven times. In 1975 Hannu Mikkola scored Toyota's first WRC victory, in the 1000 Lakes Rally. More success came with the Twin Cam Celica was raced during the 1980s. More suited to difficult terrain than any of its high-tech rivals, the sturdy Celica was a regular winner of the Safari Rally throughout the Group B era. In four-wheel drive guise and built to the new Group A regulations, the Celica ST165 and later ST185 were regular winners regardless of the surface. Carlos Sainz won the drivers' championship with the former in 1990 and Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol used its successor to the win the championship in 1993 and 1994 respectively. A stain on the TMG's rallying efforts was the ban for a full WRC season after the FIA had found the engine-intake restrictor on the latest ST205 Celica to be equipped with an illegal by-pass mechanism. The Cologne based team returned with a brand new WRC Corolla, which won the constructors' championship in 1999. Soon after, the WRC effort was curtailed as TMG focused solely on Toyota's F1 program.
Assault on Le Mans
One of TMG's first extra curricular activities was the development and construction of a new GT1 racer for the 1998 Le Mans. Using an engine supplied by Toyota in Japan, the Cologne-based team created the hugely impressive GT-One or TS020 from scratch. It was immediately competitive and in 1999, the fastest GT-One looked set to finally clinch the much desired outright victory for Toyota at Le Mans. Unfortunately, a tyre blowout late in the race ended all hopes for a win but Ukyo Katayama did great to at least recover a second overall. Along with the rally program, the endurance racing efforts were suspended in favour of Formula 1. Over a decade later, Toyota returned to sports car racing, again with a car developed and constructed in Cologne. The hugely sophisticated TS030 Hybrid took on the might of Audi in 2012 and managed to win races in its debut season. In 2013, a refined TS030 Hybrid became achingly close to victory at Le Mans but Toyota had to settle for second for the fourth time in the company's history. Although a Le Mans victory still eluded the team, the new-for-2014 TS040 Hybrid was fast enough to win both the drivers' and constructors' championships in the FIA WEC.
Throughout the 2000s, TMG was responsible for Toyota's very ambitious Formula 1 program. Operating with a virtually limitless budget, TMG designed, constructed and fielded the Toyota F1 cars between 2002 and 2009. To get the ball rolling, the team already extensively tested a car in 2001. This extenstive preparation seemed to pay off as Mika Salo scored a point at Toyota's debut Grand Prix. Unfortunately, only one other point was scored in what would become the first of many difficult seasons for the Japanese manufacturer in Formula 1. Two pole positions and three podium finishes saw the team finish fourth in the drivers' standings in 2005. Despite operating with one of the paddock's biggest budgets, a victory still eluded Toyota by the end of the decade. Disappointed with the results, the Japanese manufacturer abruptly ended its F1 efforts before the start of the 2010 season. At that time the latest TF110 was ready to go and some insiders have since suggested that it was the best Toyota F1 car yet and certainly capable grabbing that elusive victory.
Since Toyota's withdrawal from Formula 1, TMG has been actively seeking third party projects to use the company's vast facilities and capabilities. It is believed that several current F1 teams have used and still use TMG's state-of-the-art windtunnel. It is also responsible for Toyota's Le Mans efforts and a return to the WRC has been announced for 2017. TMG also builds and sells rally version of several Toyota production models to customers.
A selection of the machines built and raced by the team during the last four decades are displayed in a private museum in one of the many buildings on TMG's vast grounds. They are captured in this exclusive 50-shot gallery