1957 to 2009 This document provides an overview of Toyota’s historic and current motor sport activities and is updated twice yearly. FROM TOYOPET CROWN TO FORMULA 1
In the course of more than 50 years, Toyota has shown itself to be one of the most passionate car manufacturers in motor sport.
Although motor racing in Japan began before World War II, activities were confined mainly to individual events, rather than structured competitions. Toyota, which was established as a car manufacturer in 1937, marked its first entry into the sport in 1957, when Toyota agreed to a request from the Japanese Consulate General in Australia to enter the Crown in a gruelling rally that would run a 17,000km course around the country in 19 days. In agreeing to the venture, Shotaro Kamiya, president of Toyota Motor Sales declared: “There will be no progress if you fear failure.”
Testing was undertaken in Japan and on the event the car – a near-production standard model and the first Toyota ever seen in Australia – performed brilliantly, completing the full distance and marking an historic first step in Toyota’s motor sport activities. Just a year later, Toyota recorded its first victory, when a Crown won the Around Japan Rally.
FIRST STEPS, FIRST SUCCESS
It was some years after these modest first steps in competition that Toyota embraced motor sport more fully. In 1963 the newly-opened Suzuka Circuit hosted the first Japanese Grand Prix, a race not for single-seater formula cars, as in Europe, but for sports saloons. Toyota Crown, Corona and Publica models were entered by private teams, but Toyota provided active support, recognising early on that racing was a good arena for showing off its engineering prowess. Its efforts proved successful straight away, with Toyota cars dominating all three classes in the event, most notably with the Publica filling the top seven places and the Corona the top three in their respective classes.
At this stage, competition cars were not being fully race-engineered and Toyota was still two years away from launching its first fully race-tuned contender, the 2000GT.
Toyota was quick to capitalise on its debut grand prix success with an advertising campaign, provoking an even fiercer competition for track success with its rival Japanese manufacturers which continued through to 1969. Although open-wheel formula racing started in Japan in 1964, racing was dominated by cars from overseas; domestic car makers, bar Honda, showed no interest in becoming involved.
TOYOTA’S FIRST SPORTS CAR – THE SPORTS 800
The road-going Sports 800 was launched alongside the 2000GT at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, having been developed from the Publica saloon. Toyota’s first sports car, it featured a neat, aerodynamic two-seat body with a detachable roof panel. At the front, the recessed lamps with chrome surrounds echoed the styling of its more powerful stablemate.
It was powered by a 790cc flat-twin air cooled engine with twin carburettors and its output of 45bhp enabled a top speed of 155km/h (96mph). Drum brakes were used and the suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a rigid axle at the rear.
Its competition potential was quickly realised and it claimed victory in Japan’s biggest race of the year, the 1965 All Japan Car Club Championship. Tojirou Ukiya’s battle to first place against more powerful competition became a Japanese sporting legend.
Following this early success, the Sports 800 went on to feature regularly in domestic motor sport events. In 1966 the car’s low 9km/litre (25.4mpg) fuel consumption allowed Shihomi Hosoya to finish the Suzuka 500km race without having to stop to refuel, delivering a victory over rivals including the Prince Skyline GT, Nissan Fairlady and Triumph TR4. The same year it achieved a 1-2-3 finish in the GT-1 class in the third Japan Grand Prix.
In 1967 the gallant racer completed a Toyota top three in Japan’s first 24-hour race, following a brace of 2000GTs to the chequered flag and taking the class honours. This was to be the works Sports 800’s competition climax, successfully achieving its ambition of demonstrating the durability of Toyota vehicles. Its achievements had a lasting impact, providing valuable inspiration for Toyota to develop and expand its motor sport activities.
The Sports 800 went out of production in 1969, but privately entered cars continued racing until 1970. The model enjoyed a brief revival in 1977 when it provided the platform for a prototype hybrid power system combining a gas turbine engine with an electric motor. This was the forerunner of today’s Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system which powers the Prius model.
THE FIRST TOYOTA RACING PROTYPE – THE 2000GT
The 2000GT was the car which effectively launched Toyota’s circuit racing history. It made its debut at the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji circuit in 1966 and immediately demonstrated its potential against more powerful competition, taking third place
Unveiled at the previous Tokyo Motor Show, the 2000GT was Toyota’s bold bid to enter the global sports car market, an ambition that cold be usefully supported by high profile success on the race track. Two cars were modified to Group 6 specification for the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji – the first to admit prototype race cars. One car retired due to a simple technical problem, while the other claimed a third place against fully race-designed machines such as the Prince R380 and Porsche Carrera 6.
One month later, Toyota took first and second place in the Suzuka 1000km race, giving Toyota the encouragement it needed to press on with its motor sport programme. Three further victories were claimed during the 1967 Japanese season.
Success in the USA was crucial for the 2000GT and Toyota decided that the car should be entered in the SCCA (Sport Car Club of America) series to demonstrate its abilities against potential showroom rivals such as the Porsche 911, Lotus Elan and Triumph 250.
Initially, Peter Brock, designer of the Daytona Cobra, was to be tasked with the job of preparing the cars, but at the last minute the deal was done with racing legend Carroll Shelby, Brock’s former boss and the mastermind behind the high performance AC Cobra and Ford Mustang.
Shelby’s preparation of the 2000GT focused on tyres, suspension and a new cylinder head. The body required little work, stripped of all soundproofing and insulation to bring the weight down. Goodyear developed new low profile rubber for the car, which brought the ride height down by around 6cm. Lowering the car’s centre of gravity delivered benefits in handling along with superior grip from the wide tyres. Road holding was also improved with addition of new steel anti-roll bars and Koni coil springs and shocks.
The 1,998cc straight-six engine retained its iron block, but was fitted with a new aluminium DOHC cylinder head. Output was in the region of 200bhp.
Driven by Scooter Patrick and Dave Jordan, the 2000GT competed in the production class of the SCCA series in 1968. Even though the Toyota delivered less power than its main rival, the Porsche 911, it still recorded a number of race victories. A Porsche took the overall title, but Patrick finished the season second and Jordan third.
That single season was to be the end of the 2000GT’s American racing story, the production sports car failing to achieve the sales breakthrough Toyota sought in the US market. Toyota focused instead on developing the formidable Toyota 7 sports car for CanAm competition.
THE LEGENDARY TOYOTA 7
Toyota took a big leap forward in the prototype category by commissioning the Toyota 7, its first competition thoroughbred machine.
An open two-seater built to international sportscar Group 7 regulations, the original car was designed by Jiro Kawano, the man behind the 2000GT. Development and construction, however, were entrusted to sporting partner Yamaha. The design was typical of its day, with the main cockpit structure made up of aluminium side sills and scuttles and the body formed in fibreglass.
First track tests took place at Suzuka in February 1968, using the DOHC fuel-injected six-cylinder, two-litre engine from the 2000GT. This was subsequently replaced by a full-blooded 300bhp DOHC three-litre V8 all-alloy unit in time for the car’s race debut in February of the same year. It was up against more powerful competition, however, with both the Nissan R381 and Taki Racing Lola T70 benefiting from the 450bhp five-litre Chevrolet V8. This disadvantage destined the Toyota 7 to never win a Japanese Grand Prix.
It did enjoy success in endurance racing, however. In 1968 the first Japanese Can-Am race – an event of similar status to the Grand Prix – was held, featuring many overseas entries. Sachio Fukuzawa drove the Toyota to fourth place, leading home three more 7s in fifth to seventh.
The following year Toyota presented a new five-litre Toyota 7, which made its racing debut with a victory in the Fuji 1,000km. This raised hopes for success in the Japanese Grand Prix, but the strength of the new Nissan six-litre engine relegated Toyota to third, fourth and fifth places. There was better success when a revised 7 took piloted by Minoru Kawai took on the visiting American stars to win the Japanese Can-Am race. Earlier in the same season the 7 notched up victories at the Fuji 1,000km, the Suzuka 12 Hours and Suzuka 1,000km.
These results were to provide a springboard for Toyota to enter Can-Am competition in North America in 1970, but the 7 project was destined for a premature conclusion. At the time, Toyota was developing a twin-turbocharged V8 delivering 800bhp, tipping the scales at just 620kg, but this awesome machine was destined never to race.
1970s: THE BIRTH OF TOM’S RACING
Toyota continued to be represented in domestic touring car competition, principally by racing Celica and Corolla models. Its greatest success came with the Celica LB Turbo winning the Fuji 1,000km in 1973, but glory was short-lived: the international oil crisis brought Toyota’s racing activities to an abrupt halt.
The cancellation of Toyota’s sportscar programme had a direct impact on the career paths of some of Japan’s most promising young racing drivers. Nobuhide Tachi and Kiyoshi Oiwa were promising touring car drivers who hoped to graduate to international competition in the Toyota 7.
In 1974 Tachi and Oiwa created TOM’S Racing (Tachi Oiwa Motor Sport), an enterprise that would grow to become one of the central elements in Toyota’s domestic motor sport programme for both Group C and touring cars.
The 1970s saw private racing take the lead in motor sport in Japan, with the launch of the Grand Champion Series in 1971. Toyota did little during the decade as a manufacturer, aside from minor touring car and TS races for the Starlet and the taking on the role of engine supplier for the Formula Pacific series.
THE FOUNDING OF TOYOTA TEAM EUROPE
At a meeting in London in 1972, the first steps were taken in forming a team that would dominate international motor sport. On one side were representatives of Toyota, on the other the tall, quiet Swedish driver Ove Andersson, winner of the previous year’s Monte Carlo Rally. Plans were agreed for him to drive a Toyota Celica on Britain’s RAC Rally that year and a subsequent ninth place finish – well ahead of the more highly-developed works Datsun 240Z entries – ensured the new rally programme would continue.
Toyota relished the success and supported the principle of an international rally campaign, but it was not keen on the demands of worldwide travel to and from its Japanese base such a venture would make. The solution was for Andersson to set up his own workshop, establishing Toyota’s first European team – Andersson Motorsport – in Uppsala, Sweden, early in 1973. Soon the team moved its base to Belgium, preparing and running Corolla and Celica models, with support from Toyota in Japan on major events.
The oil crisis which followed the Yom Kippur War in 1974 forced Toyota to halt all future motor sport development, threatening the existence of Andersson Motorsport. A reprieve was secured thanks to the combined efforts of Toyota Motor Sales and marketing partners in Germany, Great Britain, Finland, Belgium and Portugal. Large amounts of equipment were shipped to the team, which in 1975 changed its name to Toyota Team Europe (TTE).
Competition success was not far off, with Hannu Mikkola storming to the team’s first victory in Finland’s 1,000 Lakes Rally in a 1600cc Corolla in August the same year. It wasn’t Toyota’s first world class win, that honour went to Walter Boyce in the Press on Regardless Rally in the United States in 1973, but it was the beginning of what was to be an exceptional run of world-beating performances.
TWO DECADES OF TOYOTA RALLYING SUPREMACY
In 1979 TTE relocated to Cologne, with all-new workshops on Toyota Allee. In 1991 Toyota committed to increasing its TTE shareholding and expanding the team’s facilities and by 1993 TTE was fully owned by Toyota Motor Corporation. Its name was changed to Toyota Motorsport GmBH (TMG), with Ove Andersson as company president. By this point, the number of staff had increased from an original 20 to more than 300, drawn from 17 different countries.
Statistics can only hint at the scale of the effort involved in taking Toyota to the pinnacle of the sport. By 2000, it had recorded 43 World Rally Championship victories, which translated into three manufacturers’ titles and four WRC drivers’ titles, two European titles, one Asian-Pacific title and four Middle East titles. Away from the principle international events, Toyota cars also powered to many national championship victories around the world, through distributors, dealers and private team entries.
Toyota’s first victory in the World Rally Championship was delivered by Björn Waldegård on the 1982 New Zealand Rally, heading a Toyota one-two on the event at the wheel of a Group 4 Celica GT. The Swedish driver went on to win the Safari Rally the in 1984, the first in a haul of six victories for the Celica Twin-Cam Turbo between 1983 and 1986.
The introduction of Group A regulations for four-wheel drive cars opened the way for Toyota to build one of the all-time great rally machines. The Celica GT-Four, code named ST165, was Toyota’s first full-time four-wheel rally car to compete in the World Rally Championship and had the distinction of providing Toyota with its first drivers’ championship title, claimed by Carlos Sainz in 1990.
There were many innovative features in the design and engineering of the GT-Four, including an X-Trac six-speed transmission. Toyota was fully committed to winning the WRC and engineers worked intensively on trouble-shooting early problems through to the middle of the 1989 season. Then came the breakthrough everyone was working for, with Carlos Sainz putting in an aggressive drive on the 1,000 Lakes to demonstrate just what this remarkable car was capable of. Its quality was sealed on the next event, Rally Australia, with Juha Kankkunen posting its maiden WRC victory.
In 1990 the GT-Four was consistently the class of the field. After claiming second place in the season-opener at Monte Carlo, it went on to win the Safari, Acropolis, New Zealand, 1,000 Lakes and RAC events. Carlos Sainz was champion driver and Toyota clinched second place in the manufacturers’ championship.
The season included a heroic fourth Safari Rally victory for Waldegård. Fifty-eight cars took the start, but just 10 made the finish, due to the extreme conditions with torrential rain on every day of the event. Moreover, Waldegård’s winning margin was an extraordinary 38 minutes over his nearest rival.
The base engine for the GT-four was Toyota’s 3S-GTE turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder DOHC unit, with output increased from 185 to 265bhp in line with Group A regulations. Key strengths included good acceleration response and torque delivery in low to mid-range, coupled to the traction and performance provided by the full-time four-wheel drive system.
First manufacturers’ championship for Toyota
The car was nearing its peak of perfection at the outset of the 1991 season, winning the Monte Carlo, Portugal, Corsica, New Zealand, Argentina and Catalunya rallies. Fate took a hand, however, and Sainz’s retirements from two consecutive events were enough to deny him back-to-back titles. But the GT-Four succeeded in playing a formidable role in establishing Toyota and TTE as a major player among the factory teams, achieving its full potential within just two years of its launch.
Sainz was champion again in 1992 and in 1993 Toyota became the first Japanese manufacturer to win the manufacturers’ championship, with seven WRC victories. Finn Juha Kankkunen, driving the Celica Turbo 4WD also clinched that year’s drivers’ title. Didier Auriol extended Toyota’s winning streak to three consecutive years by becoming champion driver in 1994, the first Frenchman to achieve the feat.
Corolla brings further success
From 1996 Toyota developed the Corolla to take on the role of its WRC challenger, the car making its debut on the Rally of Indonesia and scoring its first win on the Rally of Canberra. In 1997, it began its WRC campaign on Rally Finland, marking Toyota Castrol Team’s return to front-line competition after an absence of more than a year-and-a-half.
In spite of being forced to join the championship earlier than it hoped, the team was buoyed by Marcus Gronholm leading the event in its early stages. Just three events later, at Rally Australia, Auriol took the Corolla to its first podium with a third place finish and in the opening event of the 1998 season, the Monte Carlo Rally, Carlos Sainz powered the car to an emphatic maiden victory.
Sainz and Toyota were runners-up in drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships respectively in 1998, but the following year Toyota was again the sport’s number one manufacturer. This season marked the end of Toyota’s official involvement in the rallying, although privately-entered Toyota models have continued to compete and win in events around the world.
FORMULA 3 – SCHOOL OF FUTURE CHAMPIONS
Toyota was one of the first car manufacturers to recognise the value and importance of Formula 3. Initially, it re-imported engines that were race-tuned by Novamotor in Italy, but gradually Japanese tuning specialists, including TOM’S, started to participate.
In 1976 and 1977, Toyota power dominated the European Formula 3 scene and in 1978 it proved practically unbeatable in the new and agile Ralt RT-1 chassis. The Toyota-Ralt combination was shown off to its best effect in the hands of Nelson Piquet, emphatic winner of the 1978 British championship. Piquet and his British title rival Derek Warwick between them won 21 of the season’s 27 races with Toyota power.
The strength of the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine used for Formula 3 endured for many years, with highlights including Ayrton Senna’s victory in the first Macau F3 GP in 1983, the same year the Brazilian and Martin Brundle battled for the British title, again both with Toyota engines. Senna won the ultimate prize, while Toyota powered to victory in every race of the season.
JJ Lehto, another future Formula 1 star, was another ‘Toyota’ F3 champion in Britain in 1988, while Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve also contested the series with Toyota-powered cars.
Toyota has the record for the largest number of victories at Macau, courtesy of Senna, Martin Donnelly (1987), Rickard Rydell (1992), Peter Dumbreck (1997) and Darren Manning (1999). In 1997, Tom Coronel won the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort, an event rated as the second most important Formula 3 race in the world.
Toyota continues to supply engines to teams competing in the All-Japan Formula 3 series
REVIVAL OF RACING IN JAPAN
Toyota re-entered the circuit racing scene in the 1980s, capitalising on its renewed popularity in Japan. Toyota Team TOM’S spearheaded the resurgence and guided Toyota’s involvement in endurance sportscar racing both in Japan and Europe.
In 1982 the World Endurance Championship (WEC) hosted a round at the Fuji Speedway, helping revive popular interest. The new Group C category emphasised fuel efficiency and this, too, contributed to drawing support from Toyota and other manufacturers.
Toyota supported the TOM’S and Dome teams with a works-tuned engine from 1983 and in 1985 Dome claimed victory in the Suzuka 500km event. Although Toyota’s name was not in the forefront of competition, it was working internationally and focusing on participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Toyota’s Le Mans efforts moved up a gear in 1988 with the launch of the 88C-V, which deployed a 3.2-litre V8 engine in a Toyota-designed chassis. In 1989 it extended its activities from Le Mans to contest the sportscar world championship and in 1990 the 3.6-litre 90C-V finished sixth at Le Mans, Toyota’s best result yet.
International Group C rules were changed in 1991, requiring cars to use a normally-aspirated 3.5-litre engine – the same as for Formula 1 cars of the day – later reduced to three-litre capacity. To take advantage of the new regulations, Toyota set about developing the TS010, powered by a 3.5-litre V10. The car made its competition debut in the final round of the 1991 WEC season.
A full World Sportscar Championship campaign was launched in 1992, with Hitoshi Ogawa and Geoff Lees winning the opening race at Monza. In spite of many close battles, including a second-place finish at Le Mans, this was to be the TS010’s only victory. Operations were scaled down for 1993, with the car only contesting the Le Mans race.
Toyota went on to concentrate on the GT category, but in 1994 took advantage of the opportunity for Group C cars to compete at Le Mans, entering the 94C-V with an updated turbo V8 engine through the SaRD and Trust teams. The SaRD entry dominated the closing stages of the race, but gearbox problems contributed to it finishing in second place.
COMING TO AMERICA
Toyota’s involvement in endurance racing also extended to the USA, where Toyota Racing Development (TRD) was set up in 1979 to oversee sporting activities, including entry in the North American IMSA Championship.
Toyota’s involvement in IMSA began with Kent Racing developing the Celica for IMSA competition. In 1983 Dan Gurney’s All American Racers team in California entered the rear-wheel drive Celica for the series’ GTU class for cars powered by engines of less than three-litre capacity.
The positive results of this project, with seven victories, helped inspire a move to the higher GTO class for vehicles above three litres in 1986. Although less powerful than the competition, the Celica’s excellent downforce, high-speed stability and effective use of advanced construction technology helped make it the class of the field.
After a development year, the Celica GTO went on to claim 15 wins, seven pole positions and further 21 podium finishes in its IMSA career, delivering both the manufacturers’ championship for Toyota and the drivers’ championship for Chris Cord in 1987.
THE TOYOTA EAGLE TAKES OFF
To capitalise on this success, Toyota established a partnership Gurney in 1989 to develop a new car for IMSA’s GTP category. The subsequent development of this machine as the Toyota Eagle Mark III produced one of the true legends of American motor sport, with record-breaking performances in the early 1990s.
As well as being an all-conquering machine, it was also the last of its kind, as the US sportscar series moved away from the GTP class that had encouraged advances in race engineering and technology.
Dan Gurney’s team designed, built and raced Eagle cars in a great range of American racing series from 1965 to 2000, but none achieved as much as the Mark III: powered by a compact but powerful turbocharged Toyota four-cylinder engine, it dominated the 1992 and 1993 IMSA championships, winning 19 out of the 26 races it entered.
The result was back-to-back driver’s titles for Juan Manuel Fangio II and manufacturer’s titles for Toyota. The run of success included an unmatched 17 straight IMSA victories.
The Toyota Eagle Mark III has a supremely sleek and simple body. One of its key qualities was the way the efficient body shape could easily be adapted to deliver aerodynamic performance to suit different race tracks. Much credit was also due to Toyota Racing Developments, which coaxed around 750bhp out of the compact engine.
CONQUERING THE WILD WEST
In 1983 Toyota broadened its motor sport activities in North America, developing a racing truck (pick-up) with Precision Preparation Inc for stadium and off-road competition. Through to 1994, the Toyota/PPI team dominated the sport with nine drivers’ and 11 manufacturers’ titles.
Toyota also notched up 33 of-road desert wins and eight championships in the SCORE Desert Series, including back-to-back victories in the famous Baja 500 in 1998 and 1999. Further glory has been gained in the American Off-Road Racing Championship (TORC), where Toyota Tacomas have dominated the Pro-Lite class, winning seven consecutive manufacturer’s titles and driver’s championships. Teammates Johnny Greaves (Pro-Lite and Pro 4 class) and Jeff Kincaid (Pro-Lite class), from Greaves/Kincaid Motorsports, have each claimed numerous titles between 1997 and 2006 — five for Kincaid and six for Greaves.
THE WORLD’S FASTEST RACING
In 1994 Toyota approved a programme to enter CART racing (later known as Champ Cars), the world’s fastest motor sport series. It is a highly demanding championship, fought out on oval tracks, super speedways, road courses and street circuits.
The series required 2.65-litre V8 engines, running on methanol and producing around 800bhp. Toyota developed the RV8F power plant at its TRD base in California and it subsequently became the first US designed and built engine to win the CART series in 20 years.
Toyota entered the championship initially by supplying engines to two teams: Arciero Wells and Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. It was a steep learning curve, with little success in the first three years. As a result, Toyota changed its racing policy, ending its involvement with AAR and providing its engines to a larger number of teams.
This approach soon yielded better results, with Scott Pruett achieving the first pole position for a Toyota engine at Fontana in 1999. The first race win came courtesy of Juan Pablo Montoya at Milwaukee in 2000 – the first of five for Toyota-powered cars that year, including a one-two for Jimmy Vasser and Montoya at Houston.
In 2001, the Champ Car field featured five teams and nine cars with Toyota engines, between them accounting for six race wins.
Toyota's CART campaign reaped the ultimate reward in 2002. The manufacturer dominated the series with Toyota drivers finishing one-two in the championship (Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira) and Toyota leading the series in every major category. Overall, Toyota-powered Champ Cars won a series-record 21 races in three successive seasons of competition.
Cristiano da Matta won seven races and seven pole positions for the Newman/Haas team on his way to the CART driver's title and his selection as American auto racing's "Driver of the Year."
Toyota subsequently left the series to make the move into Formula 1, with Cristiano da Matta later signing as one of its grand prix drivers. Meanwhile Toyota’s US racing division switched its attention to oval racing and the Indy Racing League (IRL), claiming a one-two-three finish in its first race at Homestead in 2003. The success continued at the famous Indy 500, where Toyota became the first Japanese engine manufacturer to win on its debut. More than that, it claimed a one-two in the race, courtesy of Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves.
At the end of the 2003 season Toyota picked up the engine manufacturers’ championship and powered Scott Dixon to the overall drivers’ title. Toyota continued as one of IRL’s three engine suppliers until the end of 2005.
Toyota remains the principal sponsor of the Long Beach Grand prix, a position it has held since 1975.
Having come so close to success in the past, Toyota set its sights again on adding a Le Mans victory to its roll of international sporting successes. Using its European base at TTE, it launched an intensive programme and recruited Andre de Cortanze, a designer whose past work included the Le Mans-winning Peugeot 905.
De Cortanze completed the chassis concept for the Toyota TS020 – better-known as the GT-One – in January 1997 and within two months work was well in hand in on the general design and details of the car’s front, rear and fuel tank. By May the doors and rear and side structures were completed and the engine cover rounded off the job by September.
The first chassis was delivered in October 1997, the sleek shape of the bodywork having been refined using a wind tunnel in Italy. De Cortanze’s design was characterised by the minimal vents and air exits in the body.
The engine had its heritage in the twin-turbo V8 which powered Toyota’s Group C cars in the late 1980s. The TTE engine division, led by Norbert Kreyer, completely revised the original design, reducing the height and weight, improving fuel economy, boosting power and changing the rev range.
The first GT-One chassis ran in December 1997, less than a year from the start of the project. Initial test and development was undertaken by Martin Brundle, but later all nine drivers in the Toyota Le Mans squad were given significant time at the wheel.
In accordance with the FIA rules of the day, the GT-One also had to be developed as a legal road car. In fact the differences between the race and road versions of the car were small. On the road-going model the rear wing was set lower and the suspension ride height was raised. A smaller fuel tank was fitted and the addition of catalytic converters ensured the vehicle complied with emissions regulations.
The car made its first competition appearance in the 1998 Le Mans race, qualifying in second. The team of Thierry Boutsen, Emmanuel Collard and Eric Hélary held first place in the race until the final hour when the Toyota was forced in retirement through transmission failure. Team-mates Ukyo Katayama, Toshio Suzuki and Keiichi Tsuchiya took the chequered flag in ninth position.
Toyota returned to Le Mans the following year and swept all competition aside in qualifying to claim first, second and third places on the grid in qualifying. However, in the race the number 1 and 2 cars of Brundle/Collard/Sospiri and Boutsen/Kelleners/McNish were sidelined by separate accidents.
The third car of Katayama/Suzuki/Tsuchiya made rapid progress in the second half of the race and posted a new lap record of 3m 35.032s on its way to a second place finish.
VICTORY FOR 4x4
As a world-leading manufacturer of 4x4 vehicles, it is not surprising that Toyota has a successful record in off-road racing, both in the US and in Europe.
In North America, the Tundra competes in national championship events, while in Europe and South Africa, the diesel-powered Land Cruiser and Hilux are the favoured machines.
The Land Cruiser first tackled the Paris-Dakar event in 1978 and went on to has secure many diesel category wins in this and other events, but with the advent of the Land Cruiser 90 and 95, Toyota created a vehicle that could compete on equal terms with petrol-powered rivals. This model has chalked up a number of 24-hour endurance events in France and a round of the Off-Road World Cup.
In 2012 the Imperial Toyota team from South Africa launched their challenge for the Dakar Rally, developing the off-road racing Hilux that it campaigned in their home championship – considered to be among the toughest in the world. In its debut race the team excelled, bringing all three Toyotas home in third, sixth and 11th places. The Hilux Double Cabs, built in South Africa, ran trouble-free, true to the Toyota’s reputation for exceptional strength and reliability.
In 2013 the team returned to the Dakar in South America and improved its performance with Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz finishing second overall.
Beyond its involvement in major international motor sports activities, Toyota has been – and still is – active in many Japanese domestic championships, including GT, touring car, single-seater and one-make series.
As well as Formula 3, which was launched in Japan in 1979, Toyota is an active participant in the All-Japan GT Championship (known since 2005 as Super GT), originally with mighty 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 4.5-litre V8-powered Supra competing in the GT500 category and taking the title in 2001, 2002 and 2005. Since 2006 Toyota has been represented by a Lexus SC 430, which went on to win the Super GT series in its debut year. Toyota Celica and MR-S race cars have also taken part in the GT300 class.
In 2009 Lexus accomplished an historic clean-sweep in the series, taking both driver and manufacturer titles in the GT 500 class with the SC 430 and the GT 300 class with the IS 350.
Toyota worked with APR Racing to develop at Prius GT for the GT300 class, using the same Hybrid Synergy Drive technology as in the road-going car, but incorporating a 300hp 3.4-litre V8 competition engine. The block is mounted centrally inside the car, and the hybrid components are moved to the passenger footwell, in order to maintain the best chassis balance.
The car is clad in specially developed carbon fibre bodywork and features a series of aerodynamic aids, including a front splitter, rear diffuser and high-level rear wing. The car demonstrated its racing potential against contenders from Porsche, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, claiming a podium finish in its debut season. It went on to clinch its first race win at Fuji – Toyota’s home circuit – in the second round of the 2013 series.
Formula Toyota and Vitz/Yaris
To help discover and encourage new talent, Toyota created the Formula Toyota series and, in the same spirit, established one-make series for the Vitz (Yaris).
Outside Japan, Toyota provided engines for the North American Formula Atlantic series from 1990 to 2005, while a number of European countries hosted their own Yaris Cup one-make series.
FORMULA 1 – THE PINNACLE OF MOTOR SPORT
In 1999, Toyota announced its intention to enter Formula 1. Two years later, on 23 March 2001, at the Paul Ricard circuit in the South of France, the first Toyota Formula 1 test car was presented to 500 international journalists. By December that year the F1 team was fully in place and first race car was unveiled in Cologne.
In its debut season, Panasonic Toyota Racing fielded cars for Mika Salo, from Finland, and Scotsman Allan McNish. It scored just two world championship points, but more importantly established a sound reputation for reliability with 18 race finishes and nine top-10 qualifying positions.
In 2003 the driver line-up was changed with Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, fresh from his success in the USA, recruited with Frenchman Olivier Panis. Ricardo Zonta, also from Brazil, was named official third driver for the season.
Panis and da Matta also campaigned the 2004 season, with Olivier moving to the role of test driver late in the season, making way for Jarno Trulli to compete in the last two races of the season. For 2005 Trulli was joined by Ralf Schumacher, the German having signed a three-year contract with the team.
Toyota retained the same driver line-up for 2006 and 2007, and finished sixth in the team’s championship both years. Schumacher left the team at the end of 2007 and his berth was taken by fellow German driver Timo Glock, winner of the 2007 GP2 series.
In 2009 Trulli, Glock and third driver Kazuki Kobayashi led Toyota’s campaign in its eighth and final year of Formula 1 racing. In November 2009 Toyota announced it was to withdraw from the competition at the end of the year, having achieved 13 podium and 87 points-scoring finishes in eight seasons.
THE NASCAR CHALLENGE
Toyota entered the world of NASCAR stock car racing in the USA in 2000 with a V6 Celica entered in the Goody’s Dash series for Robert Huffman. Huffman went on to take the drivers’ title in 2003.
Today Toyota is an established, winning manufacturer in NASCAR, competing in the sport’s three leading competitions: the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck series.
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Toyota first appeared in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) in 2007, entering its Camry saloon. Bill Davis Racing (BDR), Red Bull Racing Team (RBRT) and Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) gave Camry its debut in its first NSCS race at Daytona International Speedway in February 2007. Later that season, BDR’s Dave Blaney won Toyota’s first Sprint Cup Series pole position at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The biggest news that year came off the track, though, as Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced in September that the three-time championship-winning team would campaign Toyotas from the 2008 season.
In 2008, Denny Hamlin earned Toyota’s first Sprint Cup Series victory, albeit in a non-points scoring race in February. Less than a month later Kyle Busch registered the first regular season NSCS victory at Atlanta. Including Busch’s inaugural triumph, Camry drivers have registered 49 wins in Sprint Cup Series competition over the past five years, with three separate teams and seven different drivers winning races.
In 2011, Camry drivers won six races, and Busch and Hamlin were among the 12 drivers that participated in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series championship playoff.
In 2012, the sixth season of NSCS competition for Toyota, Camry drivers won 10 races. Clint Bowyer, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. qualified for the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff with Bowyer finishing second in the final NSCS point standings -- equalling Hamlin’s runner-up result in 2010. Hamlin recorded a series-best five wins, and Bowyer earned three wins in his first season behind the wheel of a Camry for MWR.
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Toyota has contested eight NASCAR Nationwide Series championships with JGR claiming the series Owner’s Championship four times and Kyle Busch winning the 2009 Driver’s Championship, along with four consecutive Manufacturer’s Championships (2008-2010, 2012). In six seasons of NNS competition, Camry drivers have won 74 races.
NASCAR Truck Series
Toyota began participating in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in 2004 with four teams: Bang Racing, Bill Davis Racing, Innovative Motorsports and Darrell Waltrip Motorsports.
Travis Kvapil captured Toyota’s first NCWTS victory at Michigan in 2004. Since that time, Tundra drivers have won 99 races in the series, including 48 over the past four seasons (2009-2012). Kyle Busch has won 21 of those races, from just 50 starts. Toyota has won five NCWTS Manufacturer’s Championships, while drivers Todd Bodine (2006 and 2010) and Johnny Benson (2008) have won Driver’s Championships. LEXUS IN THE GRAND AM RACING LEAGUE
Through its luxury division, Lexus, Toyota began supplying engines to the Grand American Sports Car series in 2004. The 5.0-litre V8 used in American versions of the Lexus GS, SC and LS models proved an immediate success, with Scott Pruett claiming the drivers’ title and his Chip Ganassi Racing team also claiming championship honours.
In 2006, Lexus achieved its first victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona, with Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Casey Mears sharing the driving. The Chip Ganassi team went on to claim a Daytona hat-trick with further wins in 2007 for Scott Pruett, Juan Montoya and Salvador Duran and in 2008 for Pruett, Dario Franchitti, Montoya and Memo Rojas.
Pruett and Rojas claimed the 2008 driver’s title by a 30-point margin and Chip Ganassi took the team title, giving Lexus six Grand Am championships in five seasons.
In 2009 Pruett and Rojas claimed seven podium finishes, including back-to-back victories at Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio. Their strong run took them to second place in the driver’s championship in Lexus’s final year of Grand Am competition.
LEXUS LFA TAKES ON NÜRBRURGING 24 HOURS
The Lexus LFA supercar returned to the Nürburgring 24 Hours race in 2010 and duly claimed victory in the SP8 (near-production class). It was the first time the production LFA had been seen in full-blooded competition, taking on one of the world’s most challenging circuits in a marathon test of speed, handling and durability. In two previous outings in the event, development versions of the LFA were raced primarily to help hone performance and handling. This time the LFA will line up as a prime challenger in standard production car guise.
At the chequered flag the number 50 LFA crossed the line in 18th place overall among 123 classified finishers.
The racing LFA is a formidable proposition: with its advanced, lightweight composite construction and 552bhp mid-mounted V10 engine, it will reach 62mph in just 3.7 seconds and race on to a top speed beyond 200mph.
Gazoo Racing prepared and fielded the two LFA in the event, held in May. Led by Toyota master test driver Hiromu Naruse, the team included four Japanese and three German drivers with outstanding GT and endurance racing experience.
BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Toyota’s involvement in the British Touring Car Championship, one of the world’s most popular saloon racing series, goes back to the early 1980s. Its first success was with a Corolla, with which Win Percy claimed the 1982 championship.
In 1986 the Corolla GT – one of the car’s which inspired today’s GT86 – proved the class of the field, with Chris Hodgetts taking class wins in every round bar one, en route to the drivers championship. Hodgetts was again the winner in the works Team Toyota GB car in 1987.
Toyota returned to the competition after a short break in 1991 with the Carina, recruiting the race and preparation skills of multiple BTCC champion Andy Rouse. In 1993 the car was updated to the new CarinaE, Toyota’s first production car to be built in Europe, at its Burnaston factory in Derbyshire. The works team entry ended in 1995, by which time Carina and CarinaE had amassed 5 race wins and 21 podium finishes.
In 2011 Toyota renewed its involvement in the BTCC, supplying 2.0-litre turbocharged engines and body shells to independent teams. It was the first manufacturer to respond to the new Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) concept and during the 2010 season an Avensis was used to demonstrate the new formula’s potential.
The first racing season saw the Dynojet and Speedworks teams each fielding a single car. Dynojet’s Frank Wrathall secured four podium results and was named Rookie of the Year; in 2012 he went on to secure his first win, in the final race of the season, at Brands Hatch. Four Toyota are contesting the 2013 season: one apiece for Dynojet and Cicely Racing and two for Speedworks.
HYBRID POWER AT LE MANS
In 2012 Toyota re-entered the top flight of international sports car racing with an all new car, the TS030 Hybrid. Equipped with THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System – Racing), the all-new car was designed to LMP1 regulations for the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The TS030 Hybrid uses a 530hp 3.4-litre petrol V8 engine, an electric motor and a super capacitor that can harvest energy during racing and provide an additional 300hp of boost. Built at Toyota Motorsport’s headquarters in Cologne, the car also features a light and aerodynamic carbon fibre moncoque chassis.
The team enjoyed a strong debut season, claiming wins in the WEC rounds at Sao Paulo, Fuji and Shangai. However, there was to be no Le Mans glory, both Toyotas failing to complete the course. In 2013 the team claimed third place at the Silverstone and Spa rounds of the series and equalled Toyota’s best Le Mans performance with second spot for the car driven by Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin.