Toyota appears poised to re-enter the World Rally Championship, with its Cologne-based motorsports arm currently testing and developing a Yaris-based WRC prototype.
Built to comply with the current era of regulations, the car has so far completed six days of testing to give the Toyota Motorsports Group (TMG) experience in running a modern world rally car under competitive conditions.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda publicly stated a desire to return to WRC at this year's Monte Carlo Rally, but TMG's program does not yet have approval from Japan. A decision is expected by the end of 2014, however a TMG spokesman said that even if official approval is not given, it's possible development will continue and cars at both WRC and WRC2 level will be offered to privateers.
Regardless of whether or not the program receives official backing from Toyota, it's unlikely a car will be seen on the stages until at least 2017, a year in which the WRC is expected to usher in a new era of regulations. Toyota last competed in the WRC in 1999, winning the manufacturer's championship, while Neal Bates competed locally in a Corolla WRC until 2001.
With Volkswagen recently extending its commitment to the WRC until 2019, Toyota's involvement sets up the tantalising prospect of the world's two largest car makers going head-to-head in the forest.