Toyota has revealed its GR Super Sport Concept for the Tokyo Auto Salon that could result in one of the world's fastest production cars and take on the likes of the Ferrari La Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG Project One and Aston Martin Valkyrie.
Power comes from a development of the 2.4-litre twin-turbocharged V6 used to propel Toyota’s World Endurance Championship contenders since 2016. Helped by a hybrid motor driving the front axle, Toyota claims the unit is good for 735kW of power – more than any road car currently on sale.
Giant 330mm-wide tyres front and rear help find traction for what should be epic acceleration.
Gazoo Racing president Shigeki Tomoyama says the concept represents plans to turn race cars into road cars, as opposed to the approach traditionally followed by carmakers.
"Rather than developing production cars into sports cars, we aim to work out how to incorporate the know-how developed through races and rallies into production cars," Tomoyama says. "Although it will be some time before you all have the opportunity to get behind the wheel, I hope that the GR Super Sport Concept will give you a taste of what we aim to achieve with our next-generation sports cars".
With Audi and Porsche pulling out of the upcoming prototype class of the WEC championship (which includes the famous 24 hours of Le Mans), Toyota will be the only manufacturer competing. The two German brands have won Le Mans 13 and 18 times respectively (including a combined nine of the last 10 runnings) but Toyota is yet to find top of the podium in the French classic, though it came agonisingly close in 2016, when a TS050 Hybrid leading the race stopped with engine trouble with a handful of minutes to go.
Last year also looked promising for the Japanese team when it set a new lap record in Le Mans qualifying but both cars failed to finish as Porsche notched another victory.
Though the manufacturer has lost the opportunity to defeat the likes of Porsche, it maintains that "continued participation in the WEC is seen as a highly beneficial and necessary project in terms of developing cutting-edge hybrid systems and EV systems".
Toyota has been there before, when its GT-One prototype finished second at Le Mans to BMW’s V12 LMR in 1999.
The iconic GT-One racer gave birth to a single road-going car under FIA regulations that required manufacturers to build at least one registrable example of their Le Mans contenders, resulting in dazzling machines such as the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, Porsche 911 GT1 and McLaren F1 GT.
Unlike its racing rivals, Toyota elected not to sell any examples of the GT-One to the public, though it did bring the sole road-registered example to Australia as the star of Sydney’s motor show in 1999.
Le Mans organisers are considering a return to rules that would see racing prototypes more closely resemble road-going machines, as opposed to the spaceship-style racers seen in recent years.
Motorsport.com reported in November that road-related racers similar to the GT-One are “one of the options” being considered by Automobile Club de l'Ouest sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil. Toyota Motorsport technical director Pascal Vasselon confirmed at the time that “the idea could be to go towards bodywork that is clearly closer to real cars”, a movement supported by legendary McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray.
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