Toyota has announced its global motorsport plans for 2018, stressing the role that racing and rallying play in the development of ever-better road cars.
The announcement included the reveal of the improved Toyota TS050 Hybrid race car to compete in the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship (WEC) “super season” that includes two instalments of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Factory cars are also competing in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), opening the season with a double podium in last month’s Monte Carlo rally. The team goes to the next rally in Sweden sharing the world manufacturers’ championship lead.
Toyota’s philosophy is that motorsport, which can include competition on a wide variety of surfaces as well as public roads, is the ultimate proving ground for the development of its production vehicles.
Through its diverse motorsport activities, the company is seeking to incorporate technologies and knowledge gleaned from motorsport into its future models. For example, the GR Super Sport Concept, unveiled at the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, is a hybrid vehicle that demonstrates Toyota’s desire to create commercial sports cars based on its racing vehicles.
Developed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, it incorporates hybrid technology developed for the TS050 Hybrid endurance race car.
Toyota’s WEC campaign starts in Belgium in May when two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will make his debut with the team, joining last year’s five-time WEC race winners Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
The team is seeking a repeat of its 2014 manufacturer’s title as well as securing a maiden Le Mans victory for Toyota.
Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan has improved the four-wheel drive TS050 THS-R hybrid powertrain, with significantly enhanced engine, electric motors and batteries.
Toyota GAZOO Racing will also compete in May 2018 in the Nürburgring 24 Hour endurance race in May, with a modified 5.0-litre V8 Lexus LC.
Toyota will continue to compete in NASCAR events in the United States, running the Toyota Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Toyota Camry and the Toyota Tundra will compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, respectively.
On the local front, the Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa team showed off the legendary quality, durability, and reliability of the Toyota Hilux with a second and third place overall in this year’s Dakar rally.
In Japanese domestic competition, Toyota GAZOO Racing will attempt to retain its championships in both Super GT and the Japanese Super Formula Championship.