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Toyota and Microsoft team up with rally legend Tommi Mäkinen for 2017 WRC series

Among the numerous unveilings and surprises at the 2016 Paris Motor Show was Toyota’s announcement that it will be partnering with Microsoft for the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) series. The tech giant will be a “technology partner” for the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team.

The world’s largest automaker sees motorsports as a means to “convey the excitement of driving,” thus drawing in new fans and enthusiasts to the brand. With its Gazoo Racing team, Toyota’s developers and products are improved, which leads to “ever-better cars.” The team is headed by rally legend Tommi Mäkinen, and a rally vehicle is being prepared for next year’s season. Mäkinen, who won and defended the World Rally Championship four times on the trot between 1996 and 1999, drove the Yaris WRC Test Car onstage at the Paris Motor Show.

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Toyota is utilizing Microsoft technology to increase its competitiveness in the WRC, while also helping that knowledge to find its way into production vehicles.

2016-paris-ms-toyota-gazooMicrosoft will support the Gazoo racing team in three areas. The first is the development of an analysis platform to gather and analyze data, which will then be implemented in competition. Secondly, an information-sharing system will allow members of the team to share various media in a cloud service. Finally, an improvement of communication through the cloud and Microsoft’s devices will give fans a more personal track experience.

Toyota and Microsoft have collaborated before, more recently on Toyota Connected, a company that uses collected data to improve safety and the driving experience for Toyota’s customers.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said: “I believe that, like Toyota, Microsoft aims to enrich society in meaningful ways. Based on the on-going partnership, we aim to further develop our people and enhance our cars through the use of IT in motorsports to promote ‘ever-better cars.'”