Toyota is to return to the British Touring Car Championship as a manufacturer for the first time in more than two decades.
Team Toyota GB will enter the new Corolla in the 2019 season, and has announced 2018 Independent champion Tom Ingram to spearhead the attack.
Reigning IndependentTeam's champions Speedworks Motorsport will run the cars: The Cheshire-based outfit has campaigned Toyota’s Avensis for five seasons, but next year will herald a new dawn as the all-new, UK-built Corolla – due to take to Britain’s roads in 2019 – enters the fray.
"We have been speaking to Toyota GB on-and-off for the past couple of years," says Christian Dick, "establishing an ever-closer relationship and nurturing that bond through our common passion for motorsport, engineering excellence and, ultimately, success.
"To now have them officially on-board is fantastic news, and will enable us to take that final step to really push for the overall BTCC title.
"The intention is to develop the new Corolla in 2019 before building up to a two-car assault in 2020.
"We feel we have proved what we are capable of on the Independent scene and we are well aware that the BTCC Manufacturers’ battle is another level higher again, but as a team, we are ready to pitch ourselves against the very best in Britain and – with Toyota GB’s backing – we are confident of doing just that.”
Toyota hasn't been presents as a works BTCC team since the mid-nineties. The Japanese marque withdrew from the championship at the end of a dismal 1995 season, when neither of their drivers managed a podium finish. However their return in 2019 will come with a proven race winner behind the wheel in the shape of Tom Ingram.
I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds
– Tom Ingram
“Having dreamt about racing in the BTCC since I was a little boy, the past five years have been something of a whirlwind for me, if I’m totally honest.
"What we have accomplished as a small Independent outfit – particularly over the last two seasons – has been nothing short of mind-blowing, and demonstrates just what this little team is made of.
"To attract the support of a major manufacturer is a phenomenal achievement and huge credit must go to Christian and Amy [Dick – Team Manager], who have worked their absolute socks off to pull this deal together. I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds!”
"Bringing the Corolla name and Team Toyota GB back to the British Touring Car Championship in 2019 is a great way of helping us launch this important, all-new British-built car," added Toyota GB Marketing Director Andrew Cullis.
"Speedworks Motorsport and Tom Ingram have a winning track record and we look forward to working with them throughout the coming season.”