Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda flipped a GR Yaris rally car during testing

Chairman Akio Toyoda recently opened a new Toyota R&D facility with a destroyed GR Yaris rally car behind him. Turns out, Toyoda himself was behind the wheel when it flipped over onto its roof. Rather than scrap it, he decided to use it as a symbol of how the new facility can help improve Toyota’s carmaking.

The Shimoyama R&D center is said to be the new base for GR and Lexus vehicles. Located in a mountainous region about 30 minutes from Toyota’s headquarters in Toyota City, it covers 1,600 acres with multiple courses and a building that houses 3,000 employees. 

One of those courses is a 3.3-mile road course patterned after the famed Nürburgring, with plenty of elevation changes and different types of corners. It’s well known that Toyota and other manufacturers rent time at the Nürburgring to test their performance cars. However, companies must ship cars, personnel and equipment halfway around the world to test there during limited windows. The Shimoyama proving grounds allow Toyota to conduct testing in-house with a massive 40-bay garage and full-time mechanics, engineers and designers all in one place. Toyoda says this will speed up car development significantly.

While Akio Toyoda was president of Toyota, he participated in events in various forms of motorsports, from the 24 Hours of Nürburgring to rounds of Rally Japan, under the pseudonym Morizo. He has been trained in the “Master Driver” program that all of Toyota’s top test drivers undergo. 

However, even the best drivers have a crash once in a while (10:20 timestamp). Toyota released in-car footage of Toyoda wheeling the GR Yaris through a gravel rally course, with Rally Japan champion Norihiko Katsuta co-driving, when the chairman hit a mound and instantly flipped the hot hatch onto its roof. “Drive, break, fix,” is the credo Toyoda wants the employees at Shimoyama to live by, and he did it by setting his own example. 

via Motor1.

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