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Infamous Motorsport Moments - Toyota's 'Restrictor Plate-gate'

This cheat gave the Japanese manufacturer a massive advantage in the WRC

8w ago
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The 1995 World Rally Championship, best known for the rivalry between Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, also marked Toyota's one-year ban from the sport. With the introduction of their new Celica - the ST205 - the team decided to bend the rules slightly by fiddling with the restrictor plate for the turbocharger. This resulted in a huge power boost over their rivals, but although this advantage was obvious, there was no evidence that the team was cheating. Not yet.

Credit: Autoglym

Credit: Autoglym

At least, not until the Rally Catalunya. Somehow, Toyota had passed every inspection up to that point, even with the strict scrutineers looking at every part of the car. One of these inspectors noticed a tiny gap between the turbocharger and the restrictor plate, and although it did not look like much, elastic washers compressed to open this gap to about 5 millimetres when the plate was re-installed. With more air going into the compressor, more power was available.

Credit: Car Throttle

Credit: Car Throttle

This diagram above shows just how small the difference is between an ordinary restrictor plate setup and Toyota's genius idea. This tiny gap allowed for an increase of 50 horsepower, pushing the Celica past the 300bhp limit of Group A rally cars at the time, and allowing them to be far quicker than anyone else. However, once this modification was looked at thoroughly, they were banned from the WRC for 1996, as well as being disqualified from the current championship.

Credit: BangShift.com

Credit: BangShift.com

Despite initially seeming like such a minor alteration, Toyota's bold move - described as "the most ingenious thing I have seen in 30 years of motorsport" by FIA President Max Mosley - gave them such a massive advantage. With Toyota out of the way, Subaru could win the season, and although McRae's crown was certainly the star of the show that year, Toyota's 'Restrictor Plate-gate' scandal remains the most infamous cheat in the history of the World Rally Championship.

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Comments (13)

  • Carlos

      1 month ago
  • Impressive. Can't wait for the F1 Ferrari cheat from 2019 to release. in racing, engineers always looking at ways to improve and be within guidelines... there should be a medal or rewards for these nerds I say

      1 month ago
    • It’s really interesting to see what they come up with...

        1 month ago
  • Genius idea

      1 month ago
  • I didn't heard about that for something like 20 years.

    but in the last 12 months I've read and heard and seen a lot about it.

    Why now??

      1 month ago
    • I think it’s because Top Gear mentioned it briefly in their Colin McRae tribute

        1 month ago
  • Respect for those who get clever in bending the rules, all ingenuity is satisfying to see, regardless of the intention...

      1 month ago
13