Toyota is taking the task of making its brand exciting very seriously.
Two years ago, Toyota’s president and racing enthusiast Akio Toyoda went on record, telling his employees that Toyota needed to stop making boring cars. He didn’t quite say it like that, but he iterated that the automaker’s lineup wasn’t exactly one that inspired passion, and so he wanted the company to "make cars people truly love.”
Two years later and we finally have the first result of that effort, the Toyota GR Supra. It’s definitely a lust-inspiring car, so Mr. Toyoda is satisfied, right? Well, not quite. His desire is to get the Japanese automaker to truly connect with enthusiasts, which may be why he commanded Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division to turn up the volume. The division responded by launching parts support for the Mk3 and Mk4 Supra after the Mk5 made it to market, which lovers of the classic Supra happy about.
But Gazoo Racing wasn’t finished, because the racing division has just announced that it’s going to continue its foray into the world of endurance racing by participating in the FIA World Endurance Championship beyond 2020. FIA’s newly announced rules mean that hypercars like the Aston Martin Valkyrie and McLaren Senna can now participate in the race, which also gives an opening to other entrants like Toyota, which has taken that opportunity to announce it will build a real-life race car based on the GR Super Sport Concept we saw unveiled at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon.
Toyota’s Gazoo Racing will use that car to race in the 2020-2021 season, likely using a version of the 2.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 found in the TS050 LMP1 Hybrid. So why is that utterly fantastic news for us? Because homologation rules dictate that LeMans hypercars have to be closely related to road-going equivalents, meaning that Gazoo Racing needs to build road-going versions of the hypercar before it can be raced.
Shigeki Tomoyama, President of the Gazoo Racing Company, is excited about the new regulations because they’d touch off a "new golden age of endurance racing” since the rules allow more manufacturers to compete. "For Toyota Gazoo Racing, this new era of competition is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate our credentials not only as a race team against some of the best in the business, but also as a sports car manufacturer,” added Tomoyama.
Toyota’s Gazoo Racing claims it’s already begun testing both the road and race car at the company’s technical centers in Toyota City, Higashi-Fuji and Cologne. For now, we’ll have to wait to hear more details about Toyota’s new race car and its road-going equivalent, but the fact that Toyota seems to be joining the hypercar game should make us all ecstatic. Also, someone needs to give props to Mr. Toyoda and Tomoyama because they’ve upheld their promise to make Toyota an exciting brand again.