In 1985, the FISA (former ruling committee of the FIA) announced a possible replacement class to Group B that was referred to as “Group S”. The new regulations would require only 10 cars for homologation and was essentially a “prototype” class for rallying. The class was originally scheduled to make its debut on January 1st 1988, then as a heavily revised replacement to Group B for 1987, but both were ultimately cancelled. To learn much more about the history of Group S, please CLICK HERE!
Toyota’s first attempt at making a competitive Group B car was with the quite conventional Toyota Celica TCT. However, since that car was conceived when rear wheel drive was still the norm, it proved not to be competitive against its latter purpose-built four wheel drive competitors. Furthermore, in 1985 the FISA had announced the draft of a new Group S “prototype” class as a possible replacement to Group B. It took nothing else to convince Toyota to begin working on a new contender for both classes. They entrusted the project (which was code-named “222D”) to Toyota Team Europe (TTE).
The new Group B/S rally weapon would take on the image of Toyota’s brand new mid-engine sports car: the MR2. It is of no surprise since the top rallying competitors of the time also used a mid-engine layout. However, this very special MR2 shared very little with the production car less its exterior overall shape. Two basic versions of the rally car were developed; one featuring rear wheel drive for tarmac rallies, and one featuring Xtrac four wheel drive (of rallycross fame) for all other types of rallies.
Furthermore, three different engines were reported to have been tested; a 2140cc “503E” LeMans GTP race engine (which might explain the “222D” moniker (MR2 + 2.2L engine), the 2090cc “4T-GTE” engine already used in the Celica TCT, and a rumored mystery V6 version. Power was reported to be around 600 HP for all versions and up to 750 HP was claimed to be available. The dry/unladen weight of the rear wheel drive version of the 222D was claimed to be around 750 KG (1650 lbs) which, paired with the 750 HP, would give it an insane 1 kilogram per horsepower figure.
However, the heavily revised Group S replacement formula drafted in late 1986 would have demanded a minimum race weight of 1000 kg (2,200 lbs), but this could have been easily compensated by further strengthening of the chassis and well placed ballasts thus allowing to perfectly balance the car at all four corners. The mandatory 300 HP limit of Group S could have easily been met with a smaller turbocharger and tamer tuning of the engine.
The exterior mimics the normal production MR2 quite well but is much widened to accommodate a wider track for more stability and a greater range of tire widths. The bodyshell is made out of lightweight composites and features a rear opening clamshell to allow quick access to the engine. The front section features a traditional opening bonnet (hood) which also includes an extractor for the radiator. The normal MR2 “pop-up” headlamps were replaced by more reliable fixed units (also easier to replace and more lightweight) paired with rally spotlights, covered with a polycarbonate screen for better aerodynamics. The semi-gloss paint of the black prototypes helps to bring out the cars’ bold lines in a very striking manner.
Not much else is known about these prototypes since the project was obviously cancelled at the same time of Group B & S mutual demise. 11 prototypes were rumored to have been built, with many reportedly destroyed in crash tests, leaving 3 known existing examples; two blacks and one white. Their state of finish shows that the project was quite advanced but not quite fully completed. Yet, from what can be seen and from what is known of Toyota in motorsport, it can be positively argued that the Group B/S MR2 would have been a fierce contender. After the demise of the project, Toyota’s adventure in the WRC would shift with the legendary Group A Celica GT-Four (All-Trac) which was coincidentally developed alongside the 222D. Both cars shared some parts and both sported modified Xtrac four wheel drive systems.
In recent times, a black 222D made a surprise appearance at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed. A pair of black 222Ds were also displayed at the 2016 Eifel Rally Festival in Germany for the special 30th anniversary of Group B’s ultimate year (1986) but did not participate in the exhibition runs.
|Group/Class||B/12 – S||PROTOTYPE|
|Production||1985~1986||# built: 11 (rumored)|
||WRC x 1.4 =
|Output power – torque||600/750 HP @ – rpm (claimed / rumored)||– lb-ft @ – rpm|
|Lubrication system||dry sump||N/A|
|Type||AW11 based full spaceframe chassis, 2 door coupe bodyshell with unknown type composite panels|
|Brakes||F & R: discs||dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear|
|length: 3950 mm (155.5 in) *est||width: N/A||height: N/A|
|wheelbase: 2319 mm (91.3 in) *est||front track: N/A||rear track: N/A|
|Rims – tires||
|Dry/Unladen Weight||750 kg (1650 lbs) (claimed – rumored for RWD version)|
(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner & author
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- Eifel Rallye Festival Pictures used under permission – McKlein Publishing
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