Led by the squad’s Technical Director Tom Fowler, Toyota is developing the all-new specification car around the road-going GR Yaris.
M-Sport Ford already has high hopes for its latest project, while Hyundai Motorsport has started work on its challenger despite the company’s board still undecided about his plans beyond the 2021 season.
“The 2022 Rally1 car is mostly in the design phase at the moment and some manufacturing work has started,” said Fowler, who would not be drawn on whether a delay in taking delivery of the hybrid hardware from Compact Dynamics had disrupted plans.
“We’ll run some mule test cars at first which means they will have some parts for 2022 on them, but not altogether and not entirely on the correct chassis.
“After the mule tests, we expect to have a complete car – a complete package together – to run during the summer,” he added.
Team Principal Jari-Matti Latvala confirmed that Toyota Gazoo Racing’s long-term development driver Juho Hanninen will exclusively drive the first mule before their World Rally Championship stars enter the frame.
“We’ve a test driver in Juho Hanninen and we have three great drivers in our team,” said Latvala.
“If you think about Sebastien, you know, he has been winning titles with the different car manufacturers and is a seven-time world champion. “There is also the knowledge and the information and the skills.
“For sure it’s a very important tool for us and to use the skills he has and to get his opinion of the car.
“It’s going to be exciting to see a new chapter coming in the World Rally Championship. I think, overall, hybrid is a good concept.
“What I believe is, in rallying, full electric is very difficult to get working with all the stages and all the road sections – it’s a very difficult concept to get working in the rally world,” he continued.
Latvala, who succeeded Tommi Makinen as Team Principal last December after Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe took control of the company’s WRC programme, has hinted that he is keen to sample the development models to help broaden his appreciation of the hybrid rules.
“I don’t think that I will do so much testing but I have said that I would like to try the car at some point and have the understanding and the feeling of where we are with the new regulations car compared to the past,” said the 18-time WRC event winner.
“You know, I have been driving all the different cars from the past 20 years, so I would like to know what the future car is like.
“Overall, I think I would have the understanding of what the drivers are talking about [when giving the technicians their feedback].
“But I think the very first test, with Juho driving, you have to get the car on the level where everything works and where the good concept of the car is there. After that, the fine-tuning we can start with the main drivers.”