New GR Yaris AP4 unveiled

Toyota Australia has unveiled its all-new GR Yaris rally car, as the marque looks to defend its 2019 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship crown.

Defending 2019 Champion Harry Bates and 2019 runner-up Lewis Bates will pilot the two brand new cars in the 2021 ARC season, which enjoyed a shakedown in their hometown of Canberra last week.

Built and engineered by Neal Bates Motorsport, in collaboration with Toyota Australia, Neal Bates and his team of five made up design director Darryl Bush, Lewis Bates, Sam Elliot, Chris Shore and Anthony Caldwell, spent thousands of hours in the workshop developing the car.

Outside of the vehicle’s engine, transmission, driveshaft and left-hand drive steering rack, all components for the car have been made by the team or sourced locally in Australia.

“The design not only gives us a great looking car, but fine tuning the shape of the fenders and bumpers and other body parts using Toyota’s advanced technologies has helped give us an aerodynamic edge,” Bates explained.

“We also worked with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe on the 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbo engines, which have been slightly modified from the standard GR Yaris unit to comply with the AP4 regulations, while still delivering extremely quick response and optimum drivability for rallying.

“One of the things that is fantastic about this car is that it was designed for rally conversion and is very low weight to start with.

“Together with the compact turbo engine and all-wheel drive system, the GR Yaris is a great base car compared to what we have worked with previously to create rally cars.

“Building these rally cars has really demonstrated what’s at the heart of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing – a performance car brand that directly links to real-world motorsport and takes those lessons and technologies and applies them to its road cars.”

Built to meet Motorsport Australia’s AP4 regulations, the new GR Yaris still includes similar features that global WRC2 specification for manufacturer-homologated Rally2/R5 cars have.

Outside of the bodyshell components such as the doors and roof of the original GR Yaris, the rest of the car was modified into what Bates describes as a “Supercar for the gravel.”

Although the minimum weight for the category is 1230kg and while the two cars are well underneath that, the team has the advantage of strategically inserting ballast in order to meet the minimum requirements.

The car was created much lighter than usual using a fiberglass bonnet and hatch, lightweight 3D printed mirrors and bonnet vents, and perspex windows for light weight and safety.

The other notable feature is the competition engine, which uses a bespoke exhaust manifold and 1.5 bar maximum boost turbocharger fitted with an air restrictor and a Sadev six-speed sequential gearbox, generating more than the standard GR Yaris’ 200kW and 370Nm.

Ahead of the ARC’s first round at the Netier National Capital Rally, Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer John Pappas was thrilled with the Yaris being into a world-class rally car.

“We have had a very successful relationship with Neal Bates Motorsport and the team ever since Neal first raced for Toyota Team Australia at Bathurst in 1989 and we’re very excited to be unveiling the GR Yaris AP4 – a car designed and built in collaboration with NBM,” Mr Pappas said.

“As a driver Neal has had a very successful career over the past 30 years and now, as TGRA team principal leading the build on these two fantastic GR Yaris AP4 rally cars, we believe he can look forward to more successes.

“We would like to wish the TGRA team all the best for the 2021 ARC season and given the pedigree of the cars, we hope to see Harry and Lewis regularly topping the podium.”

The 2021 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship begins next month in Canberra with the Netier National Capital Rally on 9-11 April.