Ryan Millen, son of Kiwi rally and off road racing legend Rod Millen will be driving a production Toyota RAV4 rally car in the United States for the rest of the year.
Millen, who won the 2014 Baja 1000 in a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Ute, will drive the RAV4 rally car with co-driver Christina Fate in six events.
A RAV4 competing in any motorsport is rare. It is even rarer to see a compact SUV go head-to-head with the American Rally Championship’s 2WD production class.
Toyota’s entry into the American Rally Championship has a standard transmission and 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, double-overhead cam engine that produces 132 kWs and 233 Nm of torque.
Millen and his crew have removed more than 220 kgs of weight, while adding a roll cage, BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres, and upgrading the suspension to competition units.
“I’ve driven just about everything Toyota has to offer,” said Millen. “And I’ve been especially impressed with the RAV4’s tight, compact body and smooth handling. I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces this season.”
The RAV4 literally created the SUV category when it was introduced by Toyota in 1994. At that time, the notion of a unibody construction Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) was unheard of. Since its introduction, unibody-construction SUVs have become a standard offering across the automotive industry.
Widely known as a practical version of the larger more-cumbersome SUVs in North America, RAV4’s lighter and leaner design allows it to perform and handle quite effectively for desert, beach and other outdoor recreation activities.
“Over the years, RAV4 has become known more for its benefits as a practical family-vehicle alternative to the larger SUV, and we felt it was time that its performance was put on display,” said Alex Du, RAV4 vehicle marketing & communications manager.
Ryan Millen has been involved in Toyota Racing since childhood. From helping Ivan Stewart at stadium truck cross events and then competing in stadium races at nine-years old, to racing the FJ Cruiser in the Baja 1000, Millen has poured his life and professional racing career into Toyota.
Millen will also be entering some of the Rally America West Series where he will be competing in the 2WD production class with the Toyota RAV4.