Toyota Team Europe

Toyota Team Europe

Toyota Motorsport GmbH is a Toyota division based in Köln, Germany. It was recently renamed from Toyota Team Europe to Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG). It employs 300 people in a 17000m2 factory and focuses on Toyota's motorsport activities.

TTE was responsible for Toyota's World Rally Championship cars starting from the 1970s right up to the 1990s. In 1999 TTE stopped participating in rallying, in order to prepare for a switch to Formula 1 in 2002.

In the meantime, they entered sports car racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans: the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Toyota GT-One were very fast, but not lucky, scoring 2nd in 1999 with the slowest of three cars.

In 1997, it became the first motorsports business in the world to be awarded the ISO 9001 label for the quality of its operations.

Rally history

TTE was started in London in 1972 when Toyota representatives and Ove Andersson, who won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1971, decided that he should drive a Toyota Celica in the RAC Rally in the autumn of that year. Andersson came 9th, beating other Japanese top teams who mostly worked with the Datsun 240Z.

The Toyota Celica had to travel from Japan to the European events all the time, which was not good for the car, so Andersson set up a workshop of his own, Andersson Motorsport, which became Toyota's first European team. It was founded in 1973 with its workshop in Uppsala, Sweden. Shortly thereafter it moved to Brussels, Belgium. It ran Corollas and Celicas from this location, with some help from Japan for major events.

After the Yom Kippur War, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and the Toyota importers of Germany, Great Britain, Finland, Belgium and Portugal started what became the actual Toyota Team Europe in February 1975. In August of that year, Hannu Mikkola won TTE's first rally, the 1000 Lakes Rally in a Corolla 1600, where the competition used 2.0 L engines.

In 1979 TTE moved 11 of the 20 employees from Brussels to Cologne, where the [ Toyota Allee] was created. This was also the first time it used a Celica Turbo, and TTE won the next two Safaris.

In September 1987, TTE moved to a larger premises, in which they still reside. It was also the time they revealed their first four wheel drive car, the Toyota Celica GT-Four, driven by Juha Kankkunen and Kenneth Eriksson. Carlos Sainz won the 1990 FIA World Rally Championship Title for Drivers with ST165. The newer GT-Four, ST185, made its debut at the 1992 Rallye Monte Carlo, culminating in Sainz again winning the title in this year. The ST185 also won the WRC Driver's and Manufacturer's Titles in 1993 with Juha Kankkunen, and in 1994 with Didier Auriol.

In 1993 Toyota Motor Corporation bought Andersson Motorsport which then renamed Toyota Motorsport GmbH. At this time, as a fully-owned part of Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motorsport were employing 300 staff from 17 nations.

In 1995 TTE was famously [ banned for 12 months] from the WRC for cheating by designing an [ illegal air restrictor] that included both a bypass mechanism and spring loaded devices to conceal it from scrutineers. [] When they returned to the WRC for 1998, they did so with a Corolla driven by the crews of Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya and Didier Auriol/Denis Giraudet. They finished the season in second overall in both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships.

In 1999, however, the manufacturers championship was taken, the third in TTE's existence.

Sports car racing history

In addition to spearheading Toyota's efforts in the World Rally Championship, the group also developed and ran the Toyota GT-One in sports car racing. The GT-One entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans and 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was very fast, but not very reliable, and suffered from tyre failures caused by frequent overtaking. Due to its short career it never won, though it came second in 1999.

In addition to its motorsport activities , Toyota Motorsport also undertakes production vehicle analysis and development on behalf of Toyota, providing "highly-skilled and rapidly-reacting engineering" services. A range of modified Toyota road cars is also available from the Köln factory.

Today, Toyota Motorsport GmbH has been given the responsibility by Toyota Motor Corporation of developing Toyota F1's cars for entry into Formula One.

List of rally wins

External links

* [ Team Toyota Europe Motorsport GmbH]
* [ TTE's ban from WRC]
* [ Official Toyota F1 team website]

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