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All hail the return of the rear-wheel drive rally car!

Audi’s Quattro-based Vorsprung Durch Technik is credited as changing the face of rallying forever but many of us hark back to a day when rally cars were rear-driven and every corner was tackled by Real Men on opposite lock with a rooster tail of gravel in their wake.

TMG in Germany will build the customer cars
TMG in Germany will build the customer cars

Well, those days could be back. Courtesy of automotive white goods manufacturer Toyota, no less.

 Making good on a promise made to us by GT86 project figurehead Tetsuya Tada when we met him last year, Toyota’s German-based motorsport division has confirmed it will be building a turn-key rally version of the rear-driven coupe to compete in R3 level competition up to and including the WRC. Yes, rear-wheel drive is back in world-level rallying. Hurrah!

This may come as a surprise if you don’t know Tada’s background but less so when you understand a good portion of his formative years as an engineer were spent at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Germany working on the firm’s 90s rally programme. As we discovered when we drove with him in Scotland, rallying is where his heart really lies and though the GT86’s motorsport adventures have kicked off on track he always wanted to see his car put Toyota back on the forest stages it once dominated.

Mods are similar to CS-V3 track car
Mods are similar to CS-V3 track car

Can a rear-driven car really be competitive against the front-driven privateer Peugeots, Skodas, Fords and Renaults that traditionally dominate this level of rallying? We’ll find out in 2015 when the first GT86 CS-R3s run in anger.

Podium contenders or not, they’ll be sure to win over the popular vote and the return of sideways rally cars is something we can all, er, rally behind. Though given Subaru’s rally heritage and ‘share’ in the car’s development it might seem surprising Toyota has also claimed this aspect of the GT86/BRZ’s motorsport ambitions.

Moving swiftly on, the car itself is a development of the TMG GT86 CS-V3 as raced against by our man Dale in the Nurburgring VLNseries recently. You can see the full spec here on TMG’s website. The basics are all the usual FIA-certified safety equipment (cage, seats, extinguishers, etc) and upgrades to the chassis including two-way tweakable Ohlins dampers, camber adjustment, additional brake cooling and a revised exhaust with racing cats. Engine and transmission on the 38,500 euros (plus VAT) V3 track car remain broadly standard with no claimed increase over the stock 200hp, the rally car taking this further with a sequential six-speed gearbox and further unspecified mods to engine, suspension and brakes. 

Rally car will get a proper sequential 'box
Rally car will get a proper sequential ‘box

“Rallying is in our blood at TMG so it is very exciting to announce that we will be expanding our rally operations,” says Nico Ehlert, TMG’s chief engineer for Customer Motorsport. “The GT86 CS-R3 promises to be a thrilling car on the rally stages; with rear-wheel drive we can expect some dramatic action which is sure to be entertaining for drivers and fans alike. We expect demand to be high so we are looking forward to seeing a lot of GT86 CS-R3 rally cars in action from the beginning of the 2015 season.”

 Likewise Nico, likewise!



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Threshfield Toyota Corolla Teams head for Grizedale Stages

Midgley Motor Sport and Chris and James Slater have both entered their  Toyota Corolla AE86’s into this weekend’s Grizedale Stages.  Based in Coniston in the beautiful Lake District, the rally takes includes 40 stage miles with a mammoth last stage of 17 miles, and all easily accessible from a spectators perspective.  The first car is away at 10:30 on Saturday the 30th of November.

The MMS car is driven of course by Will Midgley with the very experienced Co-driver Geoff Maybank, on what will be their first attempt at this rally.

Toyota Corolla AE86

Chris and James (below) won their class in the Corolla a couple of years ago, the format then being a number of sections in the dark on Saturday night, followed by all day Sunday. They return now to a single day event, but none less challenging in the excellent Grizedale stages coupled with the wintry weather conditions.

Chris and James Slater AE86

There is also a good mixed field of old and new in Class 2 (1600 cc) with newer Fiesta R2’s racing against the Corolla’s, Lotus Sunbeams and good friends Malcolm Davey and Paul Slingsby in a Ford Escort Mark 1.  Mix in a few WRC cars and a Group B MG Metro 6R4 and you’ve got a great field.

For more details on the event click here



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Will and Paul win class on 2013 Tour of Hamsterley

On a day of mixed fortunes for the Toyota Corolla crews, Will Midgley and Paul Slingsby finished a very creditable 45th overall and 1st in Class. This will certainly boost their overall RAC Championship position after finishing 3rd in Class and 34th overall on the Riponian  a few weeks ago, an event where they were leading before problems with the car dropped time and places.

Will and Paul

Back to the Tour of Hamsterley, where John Midgley and Geoff Maybank had to retire unfortunately on SS2 with a blown engine. James Slater and Malcolm Smithson were doing very well even without intercom for first three stages, however on SS5 the throttle cable bolt came loose and cost them over 6 minutes. They did however recover and finished in 60th position, 6th in class.

Thanks to all the organisers and especially the Marshals for a great event.

Great pictures courtesy of Stephen Tait


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Toyota Corolla assault on RAC Championship

MMS drivers Will and John Midgley and local friend James Slater are all taking their Toyota Corollas to this weekend’s Tour of Hamsterley Rally, on Sunday the 28th based in Shildon, County Durham.

They are partnered respectively by Paul Slingsby, Geoff Maybank and Malcolm Smithson in the ‘brave seats’ and promises to be a real competition not only against the mulitude of Mark II Escorts, but also against each other in what will be a fiercely contested scrap amongst the forests. Will and John Midgley are competing in this year’s RAC Championship, which is bringing huge interest and support back into Rallying, and James is preparing the car for his entry in this year’s Jim Clark Rally at the end of May.

Competing in this year’s event and as part of the RAC Championship are rivals Steve Bannister and Marty McCormack, both of whom closely contested last year’s RAC Rally, with Bannister spinning on the last stage and allowing McCormack to win. You can be sure Steve will be out to make amends for that, and all in all the rally promises to be a real treat for fans of both classic and up to date rallying.

Teams are Will Midgley and Paul Slingsby, Toyota Corolla AE86, James Slater and Malcolm Smithson, Toyota Corolla AE86 and John Midgley with Geoff Maybank in the Toyota Corolla TE71.



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Riponian Rally 2013 – in car footage!

Will and Paul competing in the 2013 Riponian in some very Wintery conditions. They were leading class before engine problems dropped them to 3rd at the end of the event. Thanks to the organisers and all the marshalls for making this such a great event.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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Threshfield Toyota’s kick off 2013 ANCC Forest Challenge

Will Midgley sets out on the ANCC 2013 Forest Challenge this weekend, competing in the Riponian Rally, based in Thirsk.  After a great class win in the RAC Rally, winning the class in last year’s Riponian and clinching the overall ANCC 2012 Forest Challenge, Will is hoping for another good result in the Toyota Corolla AE86. The car is attracting an ever increasing fan club amongst rally followers, being a change from the regular ranks of Mark II Escorts, and is a replica of the car that his Father John Midgley won the British Championship in during the 1980s. Will is this time partnered by Paul Slingsby from Ilkley.

Joining Will on the event are the other Threshfield team of Chris and James Slater, who also race a Toyota Corolla AE86. Chris and Jim entered last year, but had a spot of bad luck early in the rally, however with good fortune they will be very competitive and won their class in the second to last outing at the Grizedale Stages in 2011.  Will and Paul are seeded 26 and James and Chris 28, so should be a great competition between them.

Both teams are competing in Round 1 of the Forest Challenge taking in 7 Rallies in total that run through to December, with Riponian totalling 40 stage miles and 90 road miles. This year’s ANCC Stage Championship is being sponsored by Threshfield Garage and Ravenol Oils, who are also Technical Advisors on lubricants for the 2013 British Rally Championship.

Will and Jonathan on their way to winning the class in last year’s Riponian

James and Chris Slater also on their way to winning the Grizedale Stages in 2011.

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