It would be true to say that Toyota Gazoo Racing hit the ground running in 2017, with high-profile entries and well-deserved podium finishes in both the Dakar Rally and World Rally Championship already under the team’s belt.
Will the momentum we experienced in January be maintained? This post offers an insight into the programme of international motorsport activities for Toyota Gazoo Racing during the remainder of 2017. If this feature-packed schedule is anything to go by, the answer to the question is a definitive Yes!
Please click on the bold subheadings to learn more about each series.
FIA World Rally Championship
This season, Toyota returned to the WRC after an 18-year absence, seeing the series as an important platform to help promote its ever-better cars initiative. Toyota will race the Yaris WRC under the leadership of Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen. The engine powering this challenge is a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo developed at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG).
|Team name||Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (WRT)|
|Team chairman||Akio Toyoda|
|Team principal||Tommi Mäkinen (Finland)|
|Vehicle||Yaris WRC (length: 4,085 mm; width: 1,875 mm)|
|Engine||GI4A (1.6-liter direct-injection turbo with a maximum output of 380+hp)|
|No.||Driver / Co-driver|
|10||Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) / Miikka Anttila (Finland)|
|11||Juho Hänninen (Finland) / Kaj Lindström (Finland)|
Toyota has competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship since its beginning in 2012. This year, TMG and Toyota Gazoo Racing have applied to enter the improved TS050 Hybrid into all nine races: three vehicles for the events at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, and two for the other seven races.
The improved Toyota Hybrid System-Racing powertrain, developed at Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre in Japan, is capable of powering all four wheels. Significant enhancements have been made to the engine, motor/generators and batteries, the purpose of which is to adopt these advanced hybrid technologies into mass-production hybrid vehicles.
This year sees José María López join the full-season driver line-up, while the two extra drivers required for round two (Spa) and round three (Le Mans) have yet to be confirmed.
|Toyota Gazoo Racing||TS050 Hybrid||TBD||Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland)|
|Anthony Davidson (UK)|
|Kazuki Nakajima (Japan)|
|TBD||Mike Conway (UK)|
|Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)|
|José María López (Argentina)|
|TBD||Stéphane Sarrazin (France)|
Toyota will once again be competing in the NASCAR series through Toyota Motor Sales USA and Toyota Racing Development USA. A varied line-up will see Toyota enter the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (see table below) and Xfinity Series with the new Camry, while the Tundra pick-up will compete in the Camping World Truck Series.
|Joe Gibbs Racing||11||Denny Hamlin (U.S.)|
|18||Kyle Busch (U.S.)|
|19||Daniel Suarez (Mexico)|
|20||Matt Kenseth (U.S.)|
|Furniture Row Racing||77||Erik Jones (U.S.)|
|78||Martin Truex Jr. (U.S.)|
What about domestic motorsport series?
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s programme of domestic events covers a full range of motorsport activities that customers can either follow or actually participate in themselves.
Headlining this programme is our participation in Japan’s high-profile Super GT (see image below) and Super Formula series, while one-make race series for the GT86 and Vitz/Yaris provide a more grassroots entry into motorsport. Those who prefer to race off the beaten track are catered for with an official rally challenge.
Also within the programme is a noticeable focus on cultivating young drivers to compete in top race and rally categories, as well as opportunities for drivers to take part in tutored track days and gymkhana-style experiences at various circuits throughout Japan.
Learn more: When did Toyota first compete in motorsport?