Toyota to return to the World Rally Championship in 2017

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Toyota has confirmed that it will be returning to the World Rally Championship in 2017 after an 18-year absence.

The Japanese manufacturer won four WRC titles between 1990 and 1994 as the Celica Turbo 4WD became one of the most recognizable and famous cars in the history of rallying.

Motorsport legend Carlos Sainz won both of his world rally titles with Toyota, triumphing in 1990 and 1992. Finland’s Juha Kankkunen and France’s Didier Auriol were also victorious behind the wheel of the Celica, claiming their championships in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

However, Toyota opted to walk away from the WRC at the end of 1999, claiming “all that can be achieved has been achieved”, but signed off by winning the manufacturers’ title that year.

Now though, the history books are set to be rewritten as marque president Akio Toyoda confirmed today that Toyota would be returning to the WRC upon the next regulation change in 2017.

“Last time we competed was in 1999,” he said. “That makes me think we are not announcing a return, but perhaps a start. We must begin again from scratch and carefully prepare both team and cars.

The operation will be run out of Cologne, Germany, and a Toyota Motorsport WRC-liveried Yaris has already been testing on tarmac and gravel. 27-year-old Eric Camilli has become the first driver to join its junior programme, whilst Formula E driver Stephane Sarrazin will also aid the development of the car.

“Toyota has a long and distinguished history in motorsport, particularly in world rallying, and we’re delighted to welcome one of the automobile industry’s giants back to WRC,” WRC managing director Oliver Ciesla said.

Whether you’re a diehard WRC fan or simply have fond memories of SEGA Rally, Toyota’s return to rallying will be a historic moment in 2017.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.