Not only has Toyota returned to the World Rally Championship this year after 17 years out of the sport but two brand new Toyota Yaris AP4 cars will feature in the domestic championship as well. Waihi’s Carl Davies will debut his brand new Toyota AP4 rally car at this weekend’s Rally Otago and will run in the six-round New Zealand Rally Championship while Aucklander Shannon Chambers will drive a second AP4 version Toyota.
Toyota is just one of a number of manufacturers that are returning to the sport with the new spec AP4 cars – Holden, Mazda, Suzuki, Skoda, Mitsubishi and Hyundai cars are already confirmed to feature this year while there are rumours of other manufacturers adding to that list.
With a Yaris shell Davies’ car will carry a turbocharged 1.6-litre Toyota 2ZR power plant commonly found in the road-going Toyota Corolla.
“Because Toyota doesn’t make any 1600cc turbo-charged engines we have pretty much had to design our own engine and we have got all the parts for that,” Davies told herald.co.nz.
Unlike the majority of the AP4 cars that are either completed or currently under construction Davies is not getting any factory support from Toyota New Zealand.
“We have got no sponsors – we just love the sport,” he said.
“I think most of the other cars have got some good backing but we are pretty much doing this off our own back.”
Davies says there has been limited joint work with Chambers and the two Toyotas will be quite different.
“Both cars were constructed at Force Automotive, which is Andrew Hawkeswood’s company in Auckland.
“Andrew did all the chassis, the suspension points and cage and then we picked up our cars and have gone our own separate ways.
“Other than the body kit our cars will be totally different. We are running different engines – we had different ideas with the engines – I have gone my way and Shannon has gone his.”
Hawkeswood, a leading driver himself in domestic rallying for the past couple of decades, has been at the forefront of the push to the AP4 spec cars that has seen the renaissance of domestic rallying.
At least a dozen AP4 cars are expected to contest the 2017 championship.