Toyota Hiace Defies Prejudices with Outstanding Rally Performance

Mitsuhiro Kunisawa, a famous automotive journalist, took the wheel of a Toyota Hiace and participated in the Japanese Rally Championship. What kind of results did the well-known delivery van achieve?

Rallying With A Delivery Van

This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in the last 20 years or so! It was just unbelievable from what I used to think. A Hiace, a delivery van that Toyota built, was able to drive at full throttle on a narrow forest path with tight corners and ups and downs.

Even I (Mitsuhiro Kunisawa) kept saying “Amazing!” while driving the car. The following is my driver’s report based on my driving.

Kunisawa’s Hiace competing in the Japanese Rally Championship
Kunisawa’s Hiace competing in the Japanese Rally Championship

It was March 2021. When the team (CAST RACING) announced that they would be competing in the Japanese Rally Championship with the Hiace, the response was intense.

Basically, the response was positive, but about 20% of the comments were harsh. Some even said that it was an insult to the championship. In fact, as a rally enthusiast myself, if I had heard that a Hiace would be competing a rally championship, I would have thought the same way.

In fact, the Japanese Rally Championship is the most prestigious rally in Japan. Like the world’s highest-ranked WRC, rallying is a gentleman’s sport. Nobody gets excluded, but inexperienced drivers and vehicles with poor performance refrain from competing.

It’s a Hiace. Lightest model weighs 1620 kg, and maximum output for 136 hp. Tall body, no wonder everyone thinks it must be slow. It’s at the opposite of a sports car.

Everyone warms me that the car will overturn. Even without being told, I was concerned about that. But what I was worried the most is whether the car itself can be qualified for the championship.

If it’s slower than the slowest car, you might reconsider the rest of the championship, unfortunately.

Having strong pressure from the start, I wanted to drive the car with full throttle. But on the other hand, no rally result exists for this car. I could crash. On top of that, the schedule was delayed and I even couldn’t test the car before the actual race.

When I finally got my hands on the wheel, it was moments before the light turned green. And I’m trying to compete a rally with a car that I don’t even know about its limits.

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