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Toyota rally history. The forgotten WRC victories (Motogard New Zealand, 1982)

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Spends these months Auto Motor Klassiek the magazine focuses on Toyota's rally history. In a diptych, we describe the background to the contemporary competition success of the largest manufacturer in the world. A success story that started in Belgium. This history is full of background stories. That is why we also share special events from that history with you online. Today part 2: Toyota Team Europe's double victory in the Motogard of New Zealand, won by the duo Björn Waldegård-Hans Thorszelius. Second place was also for TTE, also thanks to a Swedish rally duo.

Rallying gained importance in the early eighties. That is the signal for manufacturers to release extra budget. Car manufacturers increasingly see rallying as a marketing tool and as a technical incubator. In addition, Audi has reported and with four the world is slowly shaking up. The Toyotas - under the leadership of Ove Andersson prepared for the rallies - still have two-wheel drive, like most cars on the international rally circuit. The early eighties are fairly quiet in Toyota context, but are a calm before the first TTE storm.

Andersson Motorsport GmbH / TTE: four WRC rallies in 1982

Toyota Team Europe has now left the beautiful and intimate years of the Belgian era behind, the Belgian foundation has been strengthened in Cologne since 1979. Under the name Andersson Motorsport GmbH it works steadily and attaches great importance to new assets for the rallies. The RA40 rally versions are slowly fading into the background, although they are still regularly rented out for smaller competitions.

New rally weapon: the Celica RA63

The new RA63 (with the well-known 152E 16 engine, 1.995 cc, 240 DIN-PK and rear-wheel drive) becomes the Group 1 weapon for Andersson Motorsport GmbH from March 1982, 4. That is still an independent manufacturer with full factory support from Toyota. AM Often registers for events under the name Toyota Team Europe. During the 1982 season the team is active in only four WRC rallies. Toyota Team Europe takes at least one podium place in three of them. The hit of the 1982 season is the victory in the Motogard of New Zealand. There Björn Waldegård and Hans Thorszelius take the overall victory. It is the first Toyota WRC victory since Mikkola's sensational victory in Finland, 1975. Thanks to Per Eklund and Ragnar Spjuth, second place is also for TTE, which drives the 1982 Motogard under the Toyota New Zealand flag.

Strong and loyal Swedish duo

Björn Waldegård and Hans Thorszelius have been driving together for years in the run-up to the Motogard rally won in New Zealand. The Swedes have also been active for Ove Andersson's Toyota team since 1981. Before that, the duo already occasionally drove a competition with a Toyota. Like in 1975, when Lancia withdrew from the Vinho do Porto in Portugal at the last minute. In 1974 the duo drove to fourth place in the RAC, with the strengthened Corolla Levin who made their debut in Group 4 at the time. And in 1979 Waldegård became world champion with Thorszelius as permanent co-pilot. That season was also the first in which a drivers championship was awarded. Waldegård was the first driver to win this title.

Mediocre 1981, poor general in 1982 for Waldegård

The 1981 season is with an 18e place for Waldegård moderately expired. This is a disappointment for the Swede, who has been active in rallying since 1962. Also in 1982 Waldegård greets headwind. He stranded with Thorszelius in both Monte Carlo (Porsche) and Portugal (Toyota Celica). Toyota is present in New Zealand, which is another reason why Waldegård and Thorszelius may be able to take revenge. They will drive the debuting Celica RA63, which will have start number 4 stuck on the doors. The Motogard 1982 rally will be held from 26 to 28 June 1982. The 1.014 kilometer rally mainly takes place on a gravel surface. The organizers have divided the race into 38 tough special stages.

Lead from trial 14, strong Mikkola retires

After special stage 10 Waldegård is in the lead with Thorszelius, after stage 12 they will be relieved by Michele Mouton, who consistently leads the Audi quattro with Fabrizia Pons. But Waldegård and Thorszelius take the lead again with the Toyota from test 14. Mouton and Pons fail, the Audi quattro's oil pipe breaks down. It is remarkable that the Swedes remain the boss in the rankings up to and including the last special stage, but that Hannu Mikkola wins no less than 16 stages. However, the Finn retires due to a faulty steering system in the Audi quattro. That happens in stage 24. Waldegård and Thorszelius lose an important competitor for the overall victory and hold the number one position until the end.

Strong final sprint of second Toyota duo from Sweden

In the meantime, the Swedish duo Eklund-Spjuth is increasingly moving up to the stage. They also drive for TTE, in the new Toyota Celica RA63 with competition number seven. The Swedes win six of the last fourteen stages in New Zealand and take second place in the final standings. The Swedish double strike is the first one two for Toyota Team Europe in rallying. Third place on the podium is taken by Walter Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer with the Opel Ascona 400. Röhrl also became world champion in 1982. Audi takes the constructors' title in that year. That does not happen because it takes the most points, but because the best seven results count for the championship. At the end of the 1982 season, Ove Andersson retires as a driver. That happens in the Bandama Rally of Ivory Coast, the penultimate WRC rally of the year. Andersson stays with Toyota's rally team as team boss and leads Toyota to the world top in a competition. And see how Waldegård and Thorszelius with, among others, the Celica TCT (TA64) are successful a number of times within the WRC.

Three Toyotas in top 10

Finally, a nice anecdote: Other Toyota teams also drive the 1982 Motogard under the flag of Toyota New Zealand. That brings another nice fact with it. The Toyota Starlet - with the New Zealand team Adams and Scott - is good for ninth place, and comes second in the Group 2 category. Three Toyotas thus end up in the Motogard 1982 top ten, a result that is a very important next step for Toyota. Certainly for AM, which is increasingly making progress with Toyota Team Europe.

You can find more articles about the forgotten Toyota WRC victories here.

Many thanks to Benny Heuvinck

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