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 4: the Toyota Team Europe four-fold truck in Ivory Coast, 1986.
It has been a happy marriage since 1979: Toyota Team Europe and Africa. During the last weeks of the 40s, TTE made its debut with the Celica RA64 in the Bandama Rally in Ivory Coast. Ove Andersson and Henry Liddon drove to fifth place, the Therier-Vial duo dropped out due to an accident. A few years later, Toyota became unbeatable in the tough African rallies. Especially when Group B cannon Toyota Celica Twin Cam Turbo (TAXNUMX) was introduced, and it replaced the RA63, there was no stopping it. The 1984, 1985 and 1986 Safari Rally editions all resulted in victories (with Waldegård-Kankkunen-Waldegård at the wheel respectively). The second places of 1985 and 1986 (with Waldegård and Lars-Erik Torph respectively as drivers) were just as impressive.
Fertile soil in the Ivory Coast
Also the very heavy Ivory Coast soil proved fertile for Toyota Team Europe. In 1983 Waldegård and Eklund respectively took the TA64 to places one and three, followed by the 1985 double hit. Then Juha Kankkunen won with the Celica Twin Cam Turbo, and second place went to Waldegård (again). After all the African successes, Toyota Team Europe's biggest eighties victory was yet to come. The setting: the 18th Bandama Rally in Ivory Coast.
1986. A memorable year with a mourning border
1986 was a memorable year in several respects, but it also had a strong mourning edge. The explosion of force from Group B guns had claimed human lives in Portugal and during the Corsica rally. Those events meant that 1986 would also be the last year for the powerful and risky Group B rally guns. However, the season was completed. The tenth rally of the season was marked by the absence of most of the teams. That had to do with the painful recent history in Group B. Moreover, this Bandama did not count for the constructors' championship. That was fought out in 1986 by Peugeot and Lancia. Peugeot would take the season title. However, there was enough honor and driver points to be achieved. Moreover, Toyota Team Europe had a reputation to uphold in Africa, while at the same time it had already been proven that it was almost unbeatable in Africa.
WRC goodbye to a great Toyota
Participation in the 18th Bandama Rally in Ivory Coast also marked the WRC farewell to the great Celica Twin Cam Turbo. The TA64 had the impressive 4T-GTE engine on board, which had a capacity of 2.090 cc in rally trim (EVO) and got twin-spark ignition. In addition, the power unit had an aluminum head with hemispherical combustion chambers and modified valves. The KKK K27 turbocharger provided extra pep. The powers varied per event, but this combination usually moved between powers of 330 HP and 380 HP. Those values were pressure dependent. Toyota was allowed to use this car in the WRC. The engine met homologation requirements and was produced a little over 200 times.
A. Two. Three. Four.
The 18th Bandama Rally was again an old-fashioned Ivory Coast rally, an event that was therefore considered one of the toughest competitions. When a team finished the rally, it was in fact already a victory. From September 24 to 27, 1986, the 49 participants again faced a challenge. Traditionally, the field of participants in Ivory Coast was not large. The 3.700 kilometer rally became a small battlefield, only eleven teams crossed the line in Yamoussoukro. And there the organization reserved all podium places for Toyota Team Europe. Also number four was for Toyota.
Always upright in harsh conditions
Bjorn Waldegård and Fred Gallagher won in Ivory Coast. Second place was for Lars-Erik Thorph and Bo Thorszelius. The third place was taken by the Germans Erwin Weber and Gunter Wanger. And Kenyans Robin Ulyate and Ian Street completed the quartet in Ivory Coast, finishing fourth. The Toyota's quartet and their teams thus showed that it was unapproachable in Africa under all circumstances. Toyota Team Europe had a strong weapon in its hands with the Celica Twin Cam Turbo, which proved that it could survive in tough conditions.
No measure for TTE in Africa, regardless of field
Of course. There will be critics who will argue that the Toyota Team Europe was made easy in Ivory Coast, because many rally teams withdrew. Those who think so should delve into the final rankings of the African WRC rallies from 1983 to 1986. Because in the long distance rallies in Africa there was no measure for Toyota Team Europe. Whether the big names took part or not. And the fact that Toyota occupied the first four places in 1986, and belonged to the select group of finishers, was a confirmation.
Say goodbye in style
The farewell to the TA64 was done in style and was a sign of strength in this very tough rally. There, in Africa, Toyota Team Europe always went a step further than the competition, which often missed points and the intensity of the rally because of the manufacturers' points. And the big names who did participate, learned from the end of 1983 to the end of 1986 the literal and figurative construction power of Toyota technology. Especially thanks to the TA64, rally weapon that has always been in the shadow of the quattros and Lancias of this world. But in Africa, thanks to the excellent drivers, they also showed why this Toyota is perhaps one of the best rally cars in history. A phenomenon that contributed to TTE's later global successes in rallying.
You can find more articles about Toyota's forgotten WRC victories here.
Many thanks to Benny Heuvinck and Ron Moës