I often wonder how different the World Rally Championship might be today if Group B hadn’t come to a premature end in 1986. When you consider how crazy the rally giants of the mid-’80s had become during their Evolution phase, change was always going to happen, but before Group A regulations were adopted by default and the cars became production-based, the WRC’s governing body had planned to introduce a silhouette formula called Group S.
One manufacturer who was gearing up well in advance of Group S’s January 1, 1988 roll-out was Toyota, but after Group B was banned – effectively killing off Group S in the process – the Japanese manufacturer never had the chance to fully realise the potential of its machine codenamed 222D. Only a handful of the awkward-looking AW11 MR-2 inspired prototypes were ever built by TTE (Toyota Team Europe), but it’s cool to see that at least one of them was perfectly preserved and today forms part of Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s private collection – something Jonathan will be showing us a lot more of in an upcoming post.
There’s not a whole of hard data on the 222D, but it’s believed that the black car was developed with 600hp Toyota 503E four-cylinder race engine coupled to four-wheel drive underpinnings in a chassis that weighed just 750kg (1,650lb). Group S had a suggested power cap of 300hp, so who knows where it would have ended up, had the programme actually come to fruition. This Japanese clip from the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed when TMG brought the car out for a somewhat restrained squirt up the driveway hill climb, at least gives us a taste of what might have been though…