Toyota has officially confirmed it will embark on a return to the World Rally Championship with an entry slated for 2017.

The Japanese manufacturer is widely known to have been mulling a return to rallying's top flight for some time, but only now has it formally revealed its intentions to come back with the Yaris.

Announcing the programme at a press conference in Tokyo detailing its future motorsport plans - which will also see it continue in the World Endurance Championship -, Toyota will focus on development in 2015 and 2016 before joining in 2017 when new regulations will be introduced.

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Development will be led by Stephane Sarrazin - who competes with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship - and Sebastian Lindholm.

Toyota has also announced that WRC2 driver Eric Camilli will become part of its junior programme and be involved with developing the Yaris.

"During my time there many rally fans asked me when Toyota would come back to WRC. People talked about Toyota's history in WRC, and I was filled with surprise and gratitude that so many people remembered.

"Last time we competed was in 1999. That makes me think we are not announcing a return, but perhaps a start. We must begin again from scratch and carefully prepare both team and cars," he said

Toyota enjoyed a high profile in rallying from the 1970s until it withdrew in 1999 to focus on its burgeoning Formula 1 project. In that time it notched up four drivers' titles in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994.

Toyota's plans are a substantial boost for the WRC, which will potentially see four major manufacturers' entrants - VW, Citroen and Hyundai - committing, as well as the perennial M-Sport-prepared Ford.