Toyota aims to return to WRC in 2017

In a video that surfaced online this week, a Toyota Yaris rally car has been filmed testing on a muddy road in Belgium.

Behind the wheel was ex-Peugeot, ex-Subaru rally ace St├ęphane Sarrazin, and indicates that Toyota is seeking a return to the World Rally Championships. Reports on the Yaris WRC's Facebook fan page say that testing began in March. Toyota has not participated in WRC since 2000, when it campaigned a European-spec Corolla hatchback.

Though known mainly as a humble compact hatchback supporting the low end of Toyota's portfolio, the be-winged machine looks like a serious dirt stage contender. A double-decker spoiler and ducted bodywork prove it's no ordinary Yaris. Massive flares belie a wider track, and it appears an all-wheel-drive system is at work. Turbochargers have also been employed, a must for any hope of competitiveness in WRC.

TMG, Toyota's European motorsports division, has confirmed that a 2015 WRC challenge is out of the question. According to RevistaScratch, the project's technical director, Pascal Vasselon, has said they are aiming for a 2017 re-entry, when a slate of new rules are expected to go into effect. Watch the video below.