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PUSHING THE LIMITS FOR BETTER STREET AND RACE CARS


Text | Goh Zhi Xuan
Photos | Toyota Gazoo Racing, Low Fai Ming

27 December 2019


Not only is Gazoo Racing the face of Toyota's motorsports endeavours, it is also an important arm that helps to improve Toyota's lineup of cars. Here's what Gazoo Racing is all about.
Toyota has been deeply involved in motorsports throughout the years. In fact, Toyota has an illustrious motorsport history that traces all the way back to the early 1970s. Toyota won its first-ever world championship title with the Toyota Celica in the 1990 World Rally Championship (WRC). It then went on to snag the 1993 title as well. Toyota's success was not limited to the WRC, the Toyota GT-One was a formidable Le Mans' racer in the 1990s, which held the lap record for the Circuit de la Sarthe up until 2006.

Additionally, Toyota was also involved in NASCAR as well as the pinnacle of motorsports - Formula One. In more recent times, The Japanese carmaker has been concentrating its motorsports effort under the Toyota Gazoo Racing brand to much success. Gazoo Racing snagged the World Manufacturers' Champion in the 2018 World Rally Championship, a one-two finish at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race as well as the current fastest lap record at the Circuit de la Sarthe with the TS050 Hybrid LMP1 race car.
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From circuits to the streets

By competing under extreme conditions at motorsports events around the world, Toyota Gazoo Racing has developed the technology and passion to make better cars. The extreme environment of racing makes it the ideal training ground, between the occurrence of unexpected events and the split-second important decisions that are made, both drivers and the cars are pushed to the limit. These experiences inspire and push the development of Toyota cars.

As Toyota Gazoo Racing continually fine tunes and improve its skills in car development to maintain their dominance in motorsports, this experience and innovation is also shared with the larger Toyota entity to create 'ever better' cars for the drivers like you and I.

Toyota create cars that drivers feel comfortable in, this is as important on the street as on race tracks. A race driver will only be able to perform when they can communicate with the vehicle using all their senses. Likewise, a driver-centric car will not only be comfortable, but also safe and enjoyable to drive on the streets.

The result of this can be seen in the newly released GR Supra, which is designed with sports performance and dynamics in mind.
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The most gruelling of tests brings out the maximum potential

The Nurburgring, also known as 'The Green Hell' is an extremely challenging circuit located in the northwest of Germany. The Nurburgring consists of two tracks, the 5.1km Grand Prix track that hosts F1 and World Endurance Championship (WEC) races and the 20.8km Nordschleife.

The Nordscheleife has a layout that resembles European back roads, apart from the fact that it is a whopping 20.8km long, it also features more than 170 corners - more than ten times the amount of corners on Japan's Fuji Speedway circuit, as well as a maximum elevation difference of 300m. It is littered with low speeds as well as extremely high speed sections.

Due to its challenging and gruelling nature, the Nurburgring demands the most out of not just the drivers, but also the cars that run on it. As such it is known for single-lap time trials carried out by production cars to show their prowess. Manufacturers often develop their cars on the Nurburgring while attempting to best one another by setting the best record.

Toyota Gazoo Racing started competing in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring from 2007. By competing in the world's most demanding race, Toyota is not only able to refine its cars, people and teams, it also enables them to experience and craft a unique flavour of its car that had been perfected through the races.

Naturally, many of Toyota's sports models were refined at the Nurburgring, this includes the revered A80 Supra, Altezza, 86 as well as the all new Toyota GR Supra. In recent years, this treatment has also trickled down to standard models such as the C-HR.
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Journey on the pursuit of making a better car

Toyota Gazoo Racing embarked on Toyota's five Continents Drive Project in 2014. Toyota's employees drove through Australia in 2014, North America in 2015, Latin America in 2016, Europe in 2017, Africa in 2018 and finally for 2019 - Asia, starting from the Middle East and eventually back to Tokyo just in time for the 2020 Olympic Games. This project stems from Toyota's belief that each road trains it to build better cars. They believe the road is the greatest teacher, showing what a car should be like - roads build people, and people build cars, which is why testing is also done on different kinds of roads around the world, as each road has their intrinsic differences and poses different challenges.

Traversing through the different continents, Toyota's drivers have been amazed by the importance of a car's performance. In the wilderness, the car's performance and reliability can mean the difference between life and death. Travelling through the continents also puts Toyota cars to the test in situations that you and I face daily, such as congested traffic in city streets - the cars have to be able to withstand the heat and start-stop driving conditions.

As a matter of fact, Akio Toyoda, the President of Toyota Motor Corporation also takes part in the drive. He also competes in rallies and other races that Toyota takes part in, striving to create better-driving cars through the experience gained.

By driving through these roads, the drivers are able to experience intense stimulation of all senses - something that can't be replicated on test courses and race tracks. Such a drive project not only tests Toyota's cars to the limit, they also provide a valuable experience for Toyota's drivers and technicians, which in turn aids in the development of Toyota cars.