Top 10... Toyota's WRC winners

22nd February 2017
Henry Hope-Frost

Jari-Matti Latvala’s superb win for Toyota on the recent Swedish Rally propelled the Japanese marque back into the World Rally Championship spotlight. The Finn guided his all-new Yaris WRC to Toyota’s first win since the one-off China Rally in 1999. On that day in the far east, Didier Auriol triumphed aboard a Corolla WRC in what was the firm’s final year at the sport’s top level before heading off to tackle Formula 1. 


J-ML’s win was the 44th for Toyota, which puts it level with Volkswagen, the German squad’s Polo WRCs having dominated the WRC over the past four seasons. If Latvala and Toyota keep up this good form during 2017, there are couple of big names just a few wins up the list – Subaru (47) and Peugeot (48) – to aim at. Overhauling Citroen (96), Ford (83) and Lancia (73) may take a little longer…

In the meantime, we’ve scoured the archive to remind ourselves which other drivers have won for Toyota since 1973. Some you’ll definitely have heard of, others you may not. And it just so happens that Latvala rounds the number up nicely to 10.

Carlos Sainz – 15 wins

King Carlos tops this list, as an educated guess from any serious rally fan would attest. The Spaniard began with a Celica GT-4 (ST165) in 1989, taking three podium finishes. For 1990, the winning habit began – he took four victories, four seconds and a third to clinch his first drivers’ world title. Five more wins followed in 1991, although he only managed second in the points. A move up to the ST185-spec Celica Turbo 4WD for ’92 brought four more wins and a second title. Sainz then spent five years elsewhere, returning to Toyota in 1998 to give the Corolla WRC a debut win in Monte Carlo. He followed that up with a 15th and final victory for Toyota in New Zealand that year.


1990 – Acropolis, New Zealand, Finland, Great Britain

1991 – Monte Carlo, Portugal, Corsica, New Zealand, Argentina

1992 – Safari, New Zealand, Catalunya, Great Britain

1998 – Monte Carlo, New Zealand 

Juha Kankkunen – 9 wins

The Finn’s big break came with Toyota in 1983, at the wheel of the sturdy Group B Celica Twincam Turbo. After just seven events spread over two years, he was ready to win – taking two victories in Africa in 1985. Having won the final Group B title in ’86 for Peugeot and the first Group A crown for Lancia in ’87 he returned to Toyota in ’88. Frustration over reliability issues during the next two years – and only one win in the Group A ST165 Celica – meant a move back to Lancia, where he took a third title. With the Italian squad withdrawing at the end of 1992, the only competitive place for Kankkunen was… Toyota. So he returned. This time, the well-sorted ST185 Celica Turbo 4WD gave him four wins – with three different co-drivers – and a fourth world title. He stayed until mid-way through 1996, having won one more rally.  


1985 – Safari, Ivory Coast

1989 – Australia

1993 – Safari, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Great Britain

1994 – Portugal

Didier Auriol – 7 wins

Auriol had shown blinding pace in two-wheel-drive Ford Sierras to land a pukka Lancia seat for 1989. Four seasons brought lots of wins but, like Kankkunen, he was left high and dry when Lancia pulled out at the end of 1992. So the Frenchman joined the three-time champion at Toyota and won on his debut in Monte Carlo. He was beaten to the crown by his team-mate in ’93 but made amends in ’94, with three wins and the title. A bit-part year in 1996 led to a return to Toyota for ’97 to help get the Corolla WRC up to speed. Two more wins followed, across 1998 and ’99, including the Rally China victory that would signal the start of an 18-year win drought for the marque.


1993 – Monte Carlo

1994 – Corsica, Argentina, Sanremo

1995 – Corsica

1998 – Catalunya

1999 – China

Björn Waldegaard – 6 wins

Super-Swede Waldegaard was a winner for Lancia, Ford and Mercedes so when the Toyota call-up came for 1981, more wins were expected. He managed one victory in the Group 4 Celica in what was a disappointing two seasons before getting his hands on the Group B Celica Twincam Turbo for 1983. He then used all his experience and guile to take the robust and reliable two-wheel-drive machine to four African wins – two in the Ivory Coast and two in the legendary Safari – over the next four years. His final moment of glory came in the Group A GT-4 in 1990, when, aged 46, he won the 1990 Safari to became the WRC’s oldest winner.


1982 – New Zealand

1983 – Ivory Coast

1984 – Safari

1986 – Safari, Ivory Coast

1990 – Safari

Mats Jonsson – 2 wins

From the late-1970s, this veteran Swedish privateer only ever contested a handful of rallies each year, usually his home event as well as Finland’s 1000 Lakes and Britain’s RAC Rally. He managed several fourth-place finishes, then came close to a maiden win in Sweden in 1991 armed with a Toyota Celica ST165. He went one better a year later, taking a maiden win, 39 seconds ahead of a Prodrive Subaru Legacy RS driven by a young Scot by the name of Colin McRae. He repeated his home win in ’93, this time aboard the ST185 Turbo 4WD but only 13 seconds ahead of illustrious team-mate Juha Kankkunen. Jonsson carried on tackling his beloved Rally Sweden until 2007, but there were to be no more glory days.


1992 – Sweden

1993 – Sweden

Walter Boyce – 1 win

The Canadian holds the distinction of being Toyota’s first WRC winner, thanks to his victory in the American Press On Regardless Rally, his very first start at rallying’s top level. He made his trusty Celica last for almost seven hours of action spread out over 85 stages to take a 24-minute victory over his nearest rival, local driver Jim Walker’s Volvo 142S. Boyce contested just five more events – two in America and three in his native Canada, but a second victory would prove elusive.


1973 – Press on Regardless


Ian Duncan – 1 win

Kenyan-born Duncan only contested 15 WRC events in his top-line career between 1983 and 1999, all bar one of them in his native Safari Rally. And he had a pretty good hit rate, with a string of top-six finishes in Subaru and Toyota machinery. After a career-best third in 1993 in the Celica Turbo 4WD, all the stars aligned the following year and he finally won. His margin of victory was 25 minutes over the Mitsubishi Lancer of Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka. He maintained his strong Safari finishing record with third in 1996 and ’97 and fourth in his final outing in 1999.


1994 – Safari


Hannu Mikkola – 1 win

One of the sport’s legendary flying Finns, Mikkola showed that potent mix of speed and versatility early on in his career by competing for several different manufacturers. In 1975, his third year in the WRC, he tackled seven rallies for three different marques: Fiat, Peugeot and Toyota. And he won in Morocco in the big Peugeot 504, followed that up next time out with second in Portugal in a Fiat 124 Spyder and then tok his only win for Toyota in Finland aboard the Corolla. He continued with Toyota Celicas and Corollas during 1976 and ’77 before going off to do rather well in Ford Escorts and Audi Quattros. He had one final outing with Toyota in what would be his last appearance in the WRC – in Finland in 1993, taking seventh in a Celica Turbo 4WD ST185.


1975 – Finland

Armin Schwarz – 1 win

Some strong performances in a big Audi 200 Quattro at the end of 1988 and throughout ’89 earned German Schwarz a Toyota Team Europe seat in a Celica GT-4 ST165 for 1990. A first-time-out fifth in Monte Carlo was as good as it got that year, but things improved for 1991. A third and a fourth set him up nicely for his final outing of the year in the inaugural Rally Catalunya WRC qualifier. Schwarz and veteran co-driver Arne Hertz took the lead on stage two of 35 and held on throughout to take victory. Although Schwarz would continue in the WRC until 2005, that perfect day in the Spanish sun in 1991 would prove to be his only success.  


1991 – Catalunya

Images courtesy of LAT

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