Toyota is well known for making some very reliable & to-the-purpose cars, however the automaker was often mocked by performance car enthusiasts for their rather unappealing, never enticing or fun to drive vehicles. To some extent it was perhaps correct since Toyota itself admitted to have produced rather bland-looking and boring vehicles for the enthusiasts.
However when Akio Toyoda took charge of Toyota over a decade ago, he promised to make their cars more exciting. While Toyota’s bread and butter cars are still quite to-the-purpose, the company has rolled out many sportier offerings since the Grandson of Kiichiro Toyoda, has taken the helm.
Akio himself has a racing background, and he also ran the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring in 2019 under the “Mr. Morizou” pseudonym, his connection with motorsports has been quite evident in new breed of Toyota cars such as the GR-86, Lexus LF-A, the revival of Supra and the birth of the Gazoo Racing brand. Do keep in mind, Toyota had also announced to change its image and consumer perception by launching a performance version of each of its core models, hence the GR variants.
It is precisely a GR model that pushed Akio Toyoda in the news these days, as he took a GR Yaris for a spin, quite literally. In a video posted on the official Toyota Gazoo Racing YouTube channel, Akio Toyoda is seen pulling some stunts in a rally version of Toyota GR Yaris. The other WRC-spec Yaris however, was driven by Gazoo Racing driver Jari-Matti Latvala.
Akio Toyoda showing stunts in a GR Yaris
It is so rare to watch an automotive industry boss having fun in one of his company’s cars, let alone impressing by his driving techniques. So why was Akio Toyoda pulling stunts in a GR Yaris? Because it was to promote and launch Toyota’s entry for the 2022 World Rally Championship (WRC).
2021 was a very good year for Toyota in motorsports, as not only did they clinch the constructor’s trophy in the WRC, the company also helped Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia grab their 8th title in the sport. Toyota practically swept the World Endurance Championship this year as well.
Back in the days of old, Toyota saw a good time in WRC with the Celica coupe. The Toyota Celica was known for its rallying prowess. Its first victory came in the 1982 (3rd gen) Rally of New Zealand and from 1983 to 1986, the Celica (4th gen) won all 6 WRC events in Africa. Between 1988 and 1997 Celica (5th gen) won 2 manufacturer’s titles and 4 driver’s titles. Carlos Sainz was its most successful driver, winning WRC titles with Toyota Celica in 1990 and 1992. The Celica (5th gen) also won the 1993 and 1994 titles with Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol, respectively. Its fourth consecutive Safari Rally victory came in 1995, which was also Toyota’s 8th victory in the event. And between 1994 and 1997, Rod Millen won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb three times using a Celica (6th gen), setting a record time which stood for more than 10 years.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com