What's the news?
Toyota's long, slow launch of the new Supra sports car continues this month. Alongside a final, official reveal at the Detroit motor show, we've just heard that the new Supra will be, as promised, taken racing.
Toyota has confirmed that the Supra will compete in Japanese Super GT racing, in the GT500 category. The race car will be heavily based on the GR Supra Racing Concept which was shown last year and, says Toyota, "underscores the vital role of motorsport in the development of Toyota's high-performance vehicles."
The GR in the name, of course, stands fort Gazoo Racing, the in-house racing and tuning squad which has masterminded Toyota's Le Mans victory, its return to the top of the World Rally Championship, and the road-going Yaris GRMN hot hatch. Gazoo Racing has promised that "technologies and know-how acquired through activities such as the Super GT championship are fed back into Toyota's new production vehicles."
Previous Supras have been dominant in Japanese Super GT, winning the title four times, so this will lay down a significant gauntlet to other competitors in the championship. The latest concept's purposeful circuit-racing design cues make extensive use of state-of-the-art composite materials to ensure both rigidity and lightness. Along with its ideal front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, the concept's dramatic bodywork features wide front and rear bumpers, front splitter and rear diffuser, side skirts and a large rear wing.
It also, very likely, previews a Le Mans and WEC-spec GTE version of the Supra. When we got to drive a prototype Supra last summer the car's chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, told us that he was keen to go racing with his new car, and that an entry into the GT class at Le Mans, racing alongside the bigger TS050 hybrid prototypes, was a possibility. A new Supra taking on the Corvettes, Astons, Fords, Ferraris, and Porsches at Le Mans? Yes please...