WRC promoter Oliver Ciesla says Toyota's planned return to the World Rally Championship in 2017 is 'marvellous news for the sport'.

Ciesla said he was delighted after the Japanese manufacturer announced at a press conference in Tokyo last week that it is to begin developments on a new rally programme which is set to join the WRC when new regulations will be introduced.

"Toyota has a long and distinguished history in motorsport, particularly in world rallying, and we're delighted to welcome one of the automobile industry's giants back to WRC," Ciesla said.

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Toyota's rally programme will be led by Stephane Sarrazin - who competes with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship - and Sebastian Lindholm. WRC2 driver Eric Camilli has also been announced to be helping develop the Yaris, which will be based in Toyota Motorsport's technical centre in Cologne.

Toyota has been away from the premier rallying scene for 16 years after pulling out of WRC in 1999. The manufacturers had notched up four drivers' titles in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994.

If Toyota do return to WRC in 2017 it will see five different manufacturers in the championship for the first time since 2006. Hyundai, Volkswagen, Citroen and M-Sport-powered Ford already compete in the top level of rallying.

"Toyota's announcement brings a fifth manufacturer into WRC, including three of the world's five biggest-selling auto companies" Ciesla said. "It's exciting to see that in addition to the manufacturers already competing in the championship, others are becoming aware of the benefits that engagement in WRC will bring to their business.

"There is a clear link between World Rally Cars and the vehicles we drive in the street and that's a powerful marketing tool. WRC is a truly authentic sport and this positively translates to a sympathetic image for the brands involved."