2017 Toyota Motorsport GT86 CS-Cup
The Toyota GT86 — also known as the 86 in North America and Asia — was launched in early 2012 as a two-door sports car of fairly compact dimensions. The result of a collaboration between Toyota and Subaru, the coupe was originally sold under three brands: the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S (the latter was discontinued in 2016). The sports car is available with just one engine, a 2.0-liter boxer provided by Subaru, the same company that manufactures the GT86 in Japan. Received with great enthusiasm and awarded with several titles in 2012, the GT86 was criticized in recent years for the lack of drivetrain upgrades and a turbocharged engine. Although Toyota gave the GT86 a mid-cycle facelift for 2017, the drivetrain carried over unchanged save for the additional five horsepower and five pound-feet of torque added by the revised manual transmission.
At the 2016 SEMA Show, Toyota finally unveiled a more powerful version of the GT86, dubbed CS-Cup, developed by its Motorsport division. However, the vehicle wasn’t designed as a road-going production model, but for a one-make racing series in Japan. What’s it doing at the SEMA Show, you ask? Well, the company said it "wanted to bring it here to inspire, innovate, and excite." Needless to say, the CS-Cup arrival on U.S. soil was pretty exciting, but it quickly became upsetting at the thought that Toyota still doesn’t want to give us a higher performance model.
We can still dream though...
Back to car in question, the CS-Cup is the third race-spec GT86 is a series of vehicles that came to life in 2012, when Toyota Motorsport launched the CS-V3 VLN. It was followed by the CS-R3 rally car in 2015, and now the CS-Cup. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.
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Toyota Patents Racing Assist Technology
If you’ve ever played a car racing game, say Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, you know that there’s a difficulty mode within these games that allow you to enable racing assist, a feature wherein the computer depicts a racing line on the track that helps gamers navigate around the track more easily. These feature often says when a car should start to slow down and brake as it approaches a corner or what racing line it needs to take to post quicker lap times. It’s a great feature for novice gamers, but now it appears that Toyota is bringing that virtual assistance to the real world after filing a patent for a “vehicle race track driving assistance.”
The patent is what you’d expect given its name and from what we’re used to in those video games. In effect, the technology uses cameras and GPS and combines them with pre-programmed layouts of specific race tracks. These layouts include precise measurements of latitude and longitude data, ensuring that the information that’s transmitted to a driver are all accurate, right down to the core measurements.
So how does the driver receive the data? The patent only talks about a “display system” that shows the feature to the driver. No specific were mentioned on what this display system will consist of, but it could come in the form of a head-up display that will show all the pertinent information the driver needs to assess a specific portion of a track and give the necessary recommendations on how to best drive through that portion. The system can even take the “assistance” a step further by taking control – to a certain extent – the steering, braking, or acceleration of the car in the event certain situations call for it. The system has enormous potential if Toyota goes ahead and develops the technology.
There’s been no hints from the Japanese automaker on whether it plans to proceed past the patent application stage, but considering that the company first applied for this patent in May 2015 (the United States Patent and Trademark Office only published it in October 2016), it’s worth wondering if Toyota has already made significant leaps in the development of the technology.
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2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck
Toyota has a long history with desert racing. In fact, Toyota started back in 1979 as a marketing tool to help advertise the trucks’ durability to a country completely dominated by domestic branded trucks. Fast-forward to today, and Toyota is still using desert racing as a way to attract attention to its brand and trucks. More specifically, this truck is build to herald the attributes of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro.
This truck started life as a factory Tacoma TRD Pro, but got tons of upgrades in preparation for its entry into “The Great American Off-Road Race,” the Mint 400. Held March 1-5, 2017 in Las Vegas, the Mint 400 is one of the longest and most grueling off-road races in the U.S.
The truck is modified to help it better handle the rigors of long-distance off-road racing, but the majority of its parts are factory. “The Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck is the most badass Tacoma we’ve developed,” says John Myers, National Trucks Vehicle Marketing and Communications Manager at Toyota Motor Sales. “The Mint 400 represents the most robust example of desert racing. It’s an excellent proving ground for this special build.”
So, does the Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck have what it takes to last 400 miles in the roughest and fastest terrain this side of the Mexican border? Keep reading to find out.
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Toyota Loses Le Mans to Porsche in Dramatic Race Finale: Video
The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans turned out to be one of the most dramatic endurance races in history after the leading Toyota prototype lost power and stopped on the pit straight with only five minutes to go, handing over the big win to Porsche. The German team won its 18th title at Le Mans, setting a new record for the most iconic motorsport event in Europe.
The race got underway on Saturday under a safety car due to torrential rain. With Audi’s R18 hybrids having dropped out pretty early, the battle for the overall win became a Toyota vs Porsche affair before the night settled over Circuit de la Sarthe. The TS050 of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kazuki Nakajima looked set for victory after a solid run coupled with Toyota’s excellent refueling strategy, but tragedy struck with five minutes to go when Nakajima started losing power.
Much to the team’s despair, the Toyota came to a halt on the pit straight with just one lap to go, giving way to the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb. Prior to losing power, Nakajima had a 50-second lead. At the end of the day, Toyota’s reliability failed when it mattered most. What a blow!
The video above captures the final moments of the race. While Toyota’s drivers and engineers had nothing to do but stare at the screen and witness their best chance at finally winning Le Mans vanish into thin air, the folks in the Porsche stand were celebrating one of the luckiest wins in motorsport history. Hit play to check it out and stay tuned for our full report of the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Toyota Debuts Tundra TRD Pro Trophy Truck, Announces BJ Baldwin as Driver
Long-time off-road racer BJ “Ballistic” Baldwin has joined forces with Toyota for the upcoming season of SCORE International and Best in the Desert and will pilot a Tundra TRD Pro Baja truck custom-built for high-speed desert running.
“Joining the Toyota Racing family in an all-new Tundra is really an honor,” said Baldwin. “As a kid I’d watch Toyota trucks dominate the field with one of my all-time heroes, Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart, behind the wheel. I’m looking forward to continuing the winning tradition and returning Toyota to the top of the winner’s circle!”
Toyota certainly has an iconic off-road racing heritage, so it’s no wonder the automaker is looking to continue its legacy. Baldwin is perhaps one of the best drivers in modern times, having won five U.S. national off-road racing titles that include three SCORE International championships, one Baja 500 and two Baja 1000 first place finishes. Baldwin even holds a class championship in the famed Dakar Rally.
“BJ’s successful racing record, his adventurous attitude, and his ceaseless dedication to honing himself and his craft speaks volumes to Toyota’s core ‘Let’s Go Places’ and kaizen philosophies,” said Cooper Ericksen, Toyota vice president, vehicle marketing and communications. “We look forward to having BJ and his Tundra involved in this next chapter of Toyota’s desert racing story that so far includes 11 Baja 500 and two Baja 1000 wins.”
Toyota and Baldwin will begin competing this summer with the custom-built Tundra TRD Pro. Toyota has not released specific details on the truck, but expect it come with a high-horsepower V-8, massive suspension parts, and a hand-built, tube-frame chassis.
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2016 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1
It’s no secret Toyota has been struggling with is TS Hybrid racer. The TS030 failed to finish in 2012, and in 2013, it only came in second. For 2014, a narrower car was required per FIA regulations, and during development, Toyota added a new Aisin electric motor and AWD to its new TS040 Hybrid. Toyota Racing finished first in 2014, but that was short lived, with 2015 being a disappointment.
This year, Toyota went back to the drawing board and came up with a new hybrid racer called the TS050 Hybrid (big surprise there, right?). The name isn’t exactly original, but Toyota’s LMP1 racer did take on some significant changes. Debuting at the Pail Ricard circuit in France, the racer features a new powertrain concept, as well as a new energy storage system, a redesigned chassis, and some minor changes outside.
Toshio Sato, the Team President of Toyota Gazoo Racing, said, "Our clear target this year is to compete again at the front, after a very disappointing 2015 season. In Higashi-Fuji and Cologne, there has been a huge effort to prepare for this season; everyone is highly motivated and pushing together to get back onto the centre of the podium.”
So far, the TS050 Hybrid has covered nearly 14,000 miles in testing, with another test taking place right now at the Pail Ricard Circuit. Its first official race will be at the 6 hours of Silverstone on April 17th, when the World Endurance Championship kicks off. So, now that we’ve covered a little bit about the TS050, let’s look deeper into what the engineers did to give Toyota the upper hand in this year’s season.
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Toyota participated in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring from 2007 to 2014 under the nomenclature of GAZOO racing. Then, in April of 2015, Toyota GAZOO racing was conceived as a way to unite the activities of GAZOO Racing, Toyota Racing and Lexus Racing. The goal was to put all three under the same roof, with a focus on creating better car and bringing in an increasingly wider range of enthusiasts. Now, as we work our way through the first month of 2016, Toyota has released some rather interesting news.
Just today, it has been announced that Toyota GAZOO racing has entered the Lexus RC and Lexus RC F into the 24 Hours of Nürburgring for 2016. That’s not the most interesting part, though. Remember the 2014 Toyota C-HR Concept from 2014 Paris Motor Show? Or, how about the second iteration of it that debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show? Well that concept, in what will be the closest form of a production version we’ve seen so far, will debut at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring this year as the Toyota C-HR Racing.
In all reality, that is pretty wild news. Since the first concept debuted back in 2014, certain aspects of it – primarily the drivetrain – has been kept a closely guarded secret. In 2015, the concept was shown with a design that was closer to being ready for production, but we were still left wondering just want was hidden under the hood. With the press release that flew off the printer today, Toyota included a rendering of the Toyota C-HR Racing, but the real details are still filed away in Toyota’s room of classified information. At least now we’re getting to see what the drivable variant of the C-HR will probably look like, even if it is designed solely for the race track. I really wish we knew just what the “full-hybrid powertrain” under the hood was all about, but until Toyota decides we’re worthy of that information, we can at least speculate. That said, let’s take a gander at the C-HR, what we see in the newly released image, and make a few predictions while we’re at it.
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The law of conservation of energy states energy cannot be created or destroyed. This law is the basis of how regenerative braking systems on vehicles like the Toyota Prius and F1 cars work. Instead of letting that energy go to waste, the heat created by braking is then transferred back into electrical energy and stored in a battery pack – later used to power electrical accessories or electric motors. This recent video released by Toyota shows just how much energy a race car stores from regenerative braking after one lap around the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The TS040 normally uses the energy saved from regenerative braking to power its electrical motor, but in this video, that energy is used to generate the heat needed to make breakfast for 171 people – that’s one cup of coffee, a half slice of toast and one-third of an egg. Pretty amazing when you consider Kazuki Nakajima – the first Japanese racer to take pole position in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – only made one simulated lap around the 8.469-mile track. It is an interesting video that really puts things into perspective as far as energy loss goes. The video isn’t quite as interesting as some, but it’s certainly worth a look. Enjoy.
Although Toyota has yet to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, its history with the world’s most celebrate endurance race goes all the way back to 1985. In 2015, Toyota celebrates three decades since it first lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe, with a video highlighting its past Le Mans cars and performances.
Toyota’s affair with Le Mans is one of unfinished business. Even though it has taken the checkered flag in nearly all races it has started, it failed to conquer the prototype class, coming second on three occasions. Of course, these are significant achievements for a brand that lacks the Le Mans heritage of its competitors, but it left the Japanese wanting more. More recently, Toyota finished 2nd and 3rd in 2013 and 2014, respectively, being unable to stop Audi’s domination.
For the 2015 race, Toyota returns with the proven TS040 Hybrid, which took pole position and finished third in last year’s event. Competition will be tough though, more so with Porsche returning with a lot more experience and with Nissan joining the LMP1 class with the GT-R LM Nismo. We’ll find out if Toyota has what it takes to rise above Audi, Porsche, and Nissan this weekend, during the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Meanwhile, be sure to check out Toyota Motorsport’s latest video celebrating 30 years of racing at Circuit de la Sarthe.
To help celebrate five decades of race and rally cars, Toyota has recreated a handful of old-school liveries and classic styling cues in a series of six one-off GT86 coupes.
The fleet of RWD sports cars will make their debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, an annual event held on the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. There, they will participate in the festival’s Moving Motor Show on June 25th, where visitors will have the chance to drive each on a prescribed route around the Goodwood Estate, including the renowned 1.16-mile hill climb course. The GT-86s will most likely be in high demand, so get there early if you want a decent shot at the driver’s seat. Of course, if you miss the Toyotas, don’t fret – it’s expected that models from Ferrari, Porsche, and Aston Martin will also be made available.
Afterward, the Toyotas will move to the Goodwood racing circuit where they will be put on static display in support of the popular Drift Experience. Launched in 2013, this low-grip driver’s education program utilizes the GT86’s universally acclaimed handling prowess to teach the basics of at-limit driving.
Each of the GT-86 one-offs was giving the custom vinyl treatment courtesy of Motor Mode, a UK-based specialist in automotive wraps and decals. They faithfully reproduced the original liveries to match the lines and proportions of the more modern coupe. To complete the look, ride height was dropped by 40 mm (1.57 inches) using lowering springs. This appropriately brought the arches down to fit snugly against new wheels from Rota, which provided just the right set of retro-looking rollers to complement the new vinyl, individualized for each car. Finally, a new stainless steel exhaust from Milltek Sport adds the correct kind of aural presence, not to mention a healthy dose of power as verified by the trusty ole’ butt-dyno.
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Toyota has officially unveiled its RAV4 rally car, which will be driven by off-road racing driver Ryan Millen in numerous rally events throughout the U.S., including part of the 2015 Rally America season in the 2WD-Open Class. The competition-ready small SUV was first revealed over the weekend at the Monster Energy Supercross Champioship finale at San Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, dropping cover between the races and put on display in the pits throughout the event.
The addition of a RAV4 to the Rally America running order is unusual, as the unibody-construction SSUV will compete against the likes of smaller, modified streetcars.
“I’ve driven just about everything Toyota has to offer,” Millen states in a press release. “And I’ve been very impressed with the RAV4’s tight, compact body and smooth handling. I’m looking forward to putting it through the paces this season.”
Millen is the son of off-roading legend Rod Millen, and has a history with the Japanese automaker that stretches back to his childhood, including racing in MTEG stadium at the age of nine, supporting Ivan Stewart’s off-road efforts, racing an FJ Cruiser in the Baja 1000, and winning the Baja 1000 in a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro in 2014.
SiriusXM and Wienerschnitzel have both announced a partnership with Toyota’s marketing team in support of the new race effort.
A tentative schedule has the Toyo’s first outing slated for the Idaho Rally next month, June 13th – 14th, followed by the Mendocino Rally July 18th – 19th. After that is Rally Utah, August 7th – 8th, the Gorman Ridge Rally, August 22nd, the Prescott Rally, October 2nd – 3rd, and the Mt. Hood Rally, October 17th.
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