The Group A Toyota Celica GT-Four RC/ST185 made its competition debut in the opening round of the 1992 World Rally Championship series, the Monte Carlo Rally. The ST185 was destined to be even more successful than its predecessor, the ST165, a car that had already made the Toyota team one of the leading forces in the WRC.
It took great skill and ingenuity on the part of the designers and engineers in charge of developing the ST185 to come up with a machine capable of meeting all the performance and handling demands of international rallying. The finished product was named the “Carlos Sainz Edition” in honour of the achievements of the celebrated Spanish driver who in 1990 had become Toyota’s first world rally champion.
In order to meet the homologation requirements for Group A competition, 5,000 GT-Four RC production versions of the Celica were manufactured and sold in Europe, Australia and Japan. The model was a logical development from the regular road-going Celica coupe, which was introduced to the market in September 1989. In line with Toyota Team Europe’s (TTE) requirements, the modifications were mainly focused on improvements to the engine’s cooling efficiency. This can be seen in the adoption of wide openings in the front grille and an air duct incorporated into the design of the bonnet, designed to help disperse heat from the engine bay.
In competition, the ST185 did not enjoy immediate success and Toyota’s engineers were plagued with a series of problems until midway through year. Modifications to the suspension and the powertrain allowed the car to achieve its full potential at the Catalunya Rally.
For the 1992 season Sainz, partnered by Luis Moya, and Armin Schwarz, co-driven by Arne Hertz, spearheaded Toyota’s campaign. Sainz recorded four victories and claimed his second WRC title. In the manufacturers’ championship, Toyota was placed second. It was an encouraging result, raising hopes for even better performance the following year.
The Celica entered 1993 with a new livery, the green and red colours of lead sponsor Castrol. Another more fundamental change was a move from Pirelli to Michelin tyres, which succeeded in delivering improved performance. There was a change of drivers, too: triple World Champion Juha Kankunnen joined the team, along with Didier Auriol.
By claiming its sixth victory of the season at the Rally Australia, Toyota at last achieved its long-held ambition of claiming the Manufacturers’ Championship. This in no way diminished the team’s determination to gain further success: a new traction control system was tested at the 1000 Lakes Rally, demonstrating Toyota’s continuing pursuit of the best in advanced technologies. Kankunnen amassed five wins to take his fourth drivers’ title, 23 points clear of the field.
1993 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP – TOYOTA VICTORIES
- Rally Monte Carlo – Dider Auriol/Bernard Occelli
- Swedish Rally – Mats Jonsson/Lars Bäckman (non-works car)
- Safari Rally – Juha Kankunnen/Juha Piironen
- Rally Argentina – Juha Kankunnen/Nicky Grist
- 1000 Lakes Rally – Juha Kankunnen/Denis Giraudet
- Rally Australia – Juha Kankunnen/Nicky Grist
- RAC Rally – Juha Kankunnen/Nicky Grist
TOYOTA CELICA ST185 TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION
|Body and Chassis
|Water-cooled, in-line 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC
|Toyota CT26 twin-entry
|Bore and stroke
|86 x 86 mm
|1510 x 1510 mm
|Electronic fuel injection
(front and rear)
|MacPherson struts, Bilstein shock absorbers
|299 PS at 5,700 rpm
|Brakes (front and rear)
|459 Nm at 4,000 rpm