Toyota Outlines 2015 Motorsports Activities, Announces Return to World Rally Championship

 

Toyota City, Japan (January 30, 2015) Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) today announces its Toyota Racing, Lexus Racing and GAZOO Racing motorsports activities for 2015.

Toyota also announces that it will return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017, to compete in the series for the first time since 1999. The rally vehicle will be based on the "Yaris" hatchback and will be developed and tested by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG).

Toyota views motorsports as an ideal medium for conveying the anticipation and excitement that driving can produce, and will strive to expand the reach of motorsports through to attract a wide range of car enthusiasts.

Toyota hopes to use these activities to hone its people, automobiles and technologies, and use the experience and expertise gained to develop ever-better cars.

Toyota Racing will continue to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and play a supporting role for teams competing in U.S. NASCAR, Japanese Super Formula and the Dakar Rally.

Lexus Racing will compete in Japan's top-level Super GT and provide the Lexus "RC F GT3" globally for use in grass-roots motorsports.

This year GAZOO Racing will again take part in the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, as it has with a team of employees since 2007 with the aim of personnel development. It will now increase these activities by entering a staff team in the All Japan Rally Championship and having Toyota mechanics participate in Japan's Super Taikyu series. In addition to providing a full range of grass-roots motorsports events such as the GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race and GAZOO Racing "Waku-Doki" driving, it has also established a support program to nurture professional rally drivers.

Going forward, Toyota will continue to work together with its affiliates to promote activities for consumers to see, learn about and experience motorsports, thereby contributing to the creation of ever-better cars, satisfying the passion of car lovers and bringing the joy of cars to an even wider audience.

Outline of Toyota's 2015 Motorsports Activities

1. Toyota Racing

Toyota Racing will continue to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Last year, when it became possible to fully utilize the maximum potential of the hybrid system, the newcomer "TS040 Hybrid" won five out of eight races, winning the manufacturers' and drivers' world titles. This year, the fourth year of participation, Toyota Racing will enhance its full-hybrid powertrain—the Toyota Hybrid System-Racing (THS-R)—aiming to win this year's titles again and, for the first time, win the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours (held June 13–14).

In the United States, Toyota will continue to compete in all three categories of the NASCAR racing series. It will make its ninth consecutive-year appearance in the Sprint Cup Series, the pinnacle of NASCAR racing, with the aim of taking the Drivers' Championship title for the first time.

At the Dakar Rally held in South America in January this year, Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd.'s Toyota Land Cruiser 200 finished in first and second places in the production vehicle division for the second consecutive year.

In Japanese Super Formula, a new engine, RI4A, was entered. The engine meets new regulations, and propelled both the driver and team to titles. This year, Toyota Racing will further enhance engine function with the aim of earning more titles, while Toyota Racing will also enter a Toyota "Prius" in the Super GT GT300-class.

1) FIA World Rally Championship (starting in 2017)

- Toyota has started preparations for its return in 2017, judging this event to be a leading stage to promote its ever-better-cars activities.

- Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) is developing and testing the engine and vehicle, which is based on the Yaris.

- Between 1973 and 1999 (with a temporary suspension between 1996 and 1997), Toyota won 43 WRC rallies and won the championship three times.

 

Vehicle

Yaris WRC (length 3,910 mm; width 1,820 mm)

Engine

1.6-liter direct-injection turbo (in line with global race engine stipulations)

Tires

Michelin

2015 Test Drivers

Stéphane Sarrazin, Sebastian Lindhold, Eric Camilli

 

Drivers for the 2017 competition are as yet undecided.

 

Morizo Test Drives Toyota Yaris WRC

Toyota Returns to WRC

 

2) FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)

- Toyota will compete in the eight FIA-sanctioned world endurance championship races continued from 2012.

- Highlights of the series include: Le Mans 24-hour race (June 13-14), the third race of the series; and the 6 Hours of Fuji race (October 10-11), the sixth race of the series.

- Toyota Racing plans to race further improved TS040 Hybrid vehicles from TMG. Toyota is currently applying to field two vehicles in all eight races.

- The THS-R powertrain, developed at Toyota's Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan, incorporates last year's V8 engine and front and rear motors/generators to better power all wheels. Toyota plans to utilize the advanced hybrid technologies obtained from these activities in its mass-production hybrid vehicles.

- All vehicles will be equipped with Michelin tires.

- Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, who won the drivers' championship last season, join Kazuki Nakajima in car No. 1, while Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway will race in car No. 2.

- Kazuki Nakajima, who was unable to compete in all WEC races last season due to other racing commitments, is scheduled to compete in all eight WEC races.

 

Team

Vehicle

Car no.

Driver

Toyota Racing

TS040 Hybrid

1

Anthony Davidson (U.K.)

Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland)

Kazuki Nakajima (Japan)

2

Alex Wurz (Austria)

Stéphane Sarrazin (France)

Mike Conway (U.K.)

 

3) NASCAR

- Toyota will once again compete in all the NASCAR racing series races through Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) and Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A. (TRD-USA).

- Like last year, Toyota will enter a Toyota "Camry" both in the Sprint Cup Series and in the Xfinity Series, and a Toyota "Tundra" in the Camping World Truck Series.

- All vehicles in every race category will be fitted with Goodyear tires.

 

NASCAR National Series Racing Teams

 

Team

No.

Drivers (all from U.S.)

Joe Gibbs Racing

11

Denny Hamlin

18

Kyle Busch

19

Carl Edwards

20

Matt Kenseth

Michael Waltrip Racing

15

Clint Bowyer

55

Brian Vickers

 

4) Dakar Rally

- Toyota supported Toyota Auto Body, Co., Ltd.'s Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body (TLC), which races with Toyota "Land Cruiser 200" vehicles.

- At the Dakar Rally 2015, the team's two vehicles finished in first and second place in the production vehicle division, for the second consecutive year.

 

Vehicle

Driver/Navigator

Position in production vehicle division1

Position in diesel class2

Overall position

Vehicle 1 (car number 343)

Jun Mitsuhashi / Alain Guehennec

1

1

29th

Vehicle 2 (car number 343)

Nicolas Gibon / Akira Miura3

2

2

30th

* 1includes gasoline and diesel classes; 2TLC competed in the diesel class of the production vehicle division; 3Toyota Auto Body employee

 

5) Japanese Championship Super Formula

- For the top category of Japanese formula car races, Toyota has developed a two-liter four-cylinder RI4A direct-injection gasoline turbo engine, which it is supplying for 10 vehicles in six teams.

- All vehicles will be equipped with Bridgestone tires.

- In 2015, Kamui Kobayashi, a graduate of the Toyota Young Drivers Program, will return.

 

Team

No.

Driver

PETRONAS TEAM TOM’S

1

Kazumi Nakajima (Japan)

2

Andre Lotterer (Germany)

KONDO RACING

3

James Rossiter (UK)

KYGNUS SUNOCO Team LeMans

7

Ryo Hirakawa (Japan)

8

Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)

KCMG

18

Yuichi Nakayama (Japan)

LENOVO TEAM IMPUL

19

Joao Paulo de Oliveira (Brazil)

20

Andrea Caldarelli (Italy)

P.MU/CERUMO Ÿ INGING

38

Hiroaki Ishiura (Japan)

39

Yuji Kunimoto (Japan)

 

6) Super GT GT300 Class

Toyota Racing will compete in the GT300 class with a Toyota "Prius" hybrid.

 

Class

Team

Vehicle

No.

Driver

Tires

GT 300

apr

TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT

31

Koki Saga (Japan)

Bridgestone

Yuichi Nakayama (Japan)

 

7) Driver Development in Japan

(1) Toyota Young Drivers Program

This program is aimed at cultivating young drivers who hope to compete in top racing categories throughout the world. It is dedicated to identifying new talent and helping participants improve their driving and racing skills.

 

List of Toyota Young Drivers Program Drivers for 2015

Driver

(all Japanese)

Race Category

Team

Remarks/2014 results

Ryo Hirakawa

Japanese Championship Super Formula

KYGNUS SUNOCO Team LeMans

Super Formula

(8th overall in series)

SUPER GT

LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S

Yuichi Nakayama

Japanese Championship Super Formula

KCMG

Competing in Super Formula

SUPER GT (GT300)

apr

Kenta Yamashita

Japanese F3 Championship

PETRONAS TEAM TOM’S

2 wins; 2nd overall in series; 1 PP

 

Toyota Young Drivers Program Graduates Driving in 2015

Driver

(all Japanese)

Race Category

Team

Kazuki Nakajima

World Endurance Championship

TOYOTA Racing

Japanese Championship Super Formula

PETRONAS TEAM TOM’S

Kamui Kobayashi

Japanese Championship Super Formula

KYGNUS SUNOCO Team LeMans

Hiroaki Ishiura

SUPER GT

LEXUS TEAM ZENT CERUMO

Japanese Championship Super Formula

P.MU/CERUMO Ÿ INGING

Kohei Hirate

SUPER GT

LEXUS TEAM SARD

Kazuya Oshima

SUPER GT

LEXUS TEAM LeMans ENEOS

Yuji Kunimoto

SUPER GT

LEXUS TEAM LeMans ENEOS

Japanese Championship Super Formula

P.MU/CERUMO Ÿ INGING

 

(2) Formula Toyota Racing School in Japan (August 10–13, 2015)

Formula Toyota Racing School provides a way for Toyota to conduct driving education and expand its motorsports foundation through the discovery and cultivation of Japanese racing drivers able to compete in top racing categories around the world. Support for race participation will be provided in 2016 and onward to the participants deemed to have the greatest driving potential.

 

(3) Japanese FIA-F4

From this year, Toyota Racing will support young drivers competing in the Japanese FIA-F4 entry class formula category, with seven events and 14 races.

 

2. Lexus Racing

 

1) Super GT GT500 Class

Continuing from 2014, Lexus Racing will compete in the GT500 class, the top category of Japanese car racing, with the Lexus "RC F" with a two-liter four-cylinder RI4AG direct-injection gasoline turbo engine. Support is provided by Toyota Technocraft Co., Ltd.

 

Class

Team

Vehicle

Car No.

Driver

Tires*

GT 500

LEXUS TEAM LeMans ENEOS

ENEOS SUSTINA RC F

6

Kazuya Oshima (Japan)

BS

Yuji Kunimoto (Japan)

LEXUS TEAM WedsSport BANDOH

WedsSport ADVAN RC F

19

Juichi Wakisaka (Japan)

YH

Yuhi Sekiguchi (Japan)

LEXUS TEAM PETRONAS TOM’S

PETRONAS TOM’S RC F

36

Daisuke Ito (Japan)

BS

James Rossiter (U.K.)

LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM’S

KeePer TOM’S RC F

37

Andrea Caldarelli (Italy)

BS

Ryo Hirakawa (Japan)

LEXUS TEAM ZENT CERUMO

ZENT CERUMO RC F

38

Yuji Tachikawa (Japan)

BS

Hiroaki Ishiura (Japan)

LEXUS TEAM SARD

DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F

39

Kohei Hirate (Japan)

BS

(undecided)

*BS = Bridgestone; YH = Yokohama Tire

 

2) Developing Vehicles for Private Team Racing

Lexus Racing will develop an RC F GT3 based on the Lexus RC F for the global stage, to promote grass-roots motorsports and convey Lexus' sporting image. This first year, a total of three vehicles will be built for Japan and Europe. In Japan, the LM Corsa team is scheduled to race in the Super GT GT300 class, which will compete with the RC F GT3.

 

3) New Lexus Racing logo

Lexus Racing's logo has been redesigned to globally promote Lexus' sports image and the brand's "F" and "F Sport" vehicles.

 

3. GAZOO Racing

 

1) Aiming to create ever-better cars

GAZOO Racing places importance on developing both people and vehicles through the feedback of technology and expertise to produce ever-better production vehicles, and is promoting the development of personnel in the fields of racing and rallies that are able to add flavor and spice to vehicles, known as "automotive seasoning". The development of such talent will lead to the continued commercialization of GRMN, G's and other models that bring even greater driving enjoyment to car enthusiasts.

 

Races

 

(1) Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race

- GAZOO Racing will enter two vehicles—a Lexus "LFA Code X" and a newly added Lexus "RC"—in the 43rd Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, to be held in Germany from May 14 to May 17.

- The GAZOO Racing team has been competing in the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race since 2007. By providing its own engineers and technicians for the whole process from vehicle development to race team support, Toyota aims for the race to serve as an opportunity to cultivate personnel able to develop ever-better vehicles.

 

Team Name

Vehicle

Drivers

Engineers and Technicians

Team GAZOO Racing

LEXUS LFA Code X

Masahiko Kageyama, Hiroaki Ishiura, Kazuya Oshima, Takuto Iguchi

TMC Personnel

Lexus RC

Takayuki Kinoshita, Kumi Sato, Naoya Gamou, Takamitsu Matsui

 

(2) Super Taikyu Series

Since 2012, GAZOO Racing has sponsored Tom's Spirit, a team competing with the "86", and will compete again this year with the GAZOO Racing Spirit 86. Furthermore, Toyota will dispatch engineers and mechanics to learn vehicle development skills and be trained as automotive seasoning personnel. GAZOO Racing driversTakuto Iguchi, Naoya Gamou, and Takamitsu Matsui will compete in all six races, with Masahiko Kageyama as director.

 

Super Taikyu Organization website (Japanese language): www.supertaikyu.com

 

Rallies

(3) All-Japan Rally Championship

GAZOO Racing will compete as Team GAZOO Racing in the rally championship, which is the pinnacle of Japanese rallying. Participation will take a comprehensive form, with staff acting as mechanics and involvement ranging from vehicle development to racing aimed at handing down expertise for educational and vehicle development purposes. GAZOO Racing aims to commence participation around mid-2015.

 

Team Name

Vehicle

Driver/Co-drivers

Engineers and Technicians

Team GAZOO Racing

GAZOO Racing Vitz Turbo

TBD

TMC Personnel

 

2) Creating more car fans

Throughout the year, GAZOO Racing will link regions and circuits around Japan to provide venues and a full range of driving experiences for people to enjoy getting close to and driving cars. This year, GAZOO Racing will boost support for people who aim to compete in participatory motorsports such as one-make racing.

 

(1) GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race and GAZOO Racing Netz Cup Vitz Race one-make races (Organized by the Toyota Cars Race Association)

 

GAZOO Racing will hold races for street-legal cars. Starting this year, the GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race will offer two formats, the Professional Series and Clubman Series, and adjust some of the standards to encourage participation by even more car fans.

 

GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race Schedule

 

Date

Location

March 28-29

Twin Ring Motegi

April 25-26

Okayama International Circuit

June 6-7

Fuji Speedway

July 11-12

Sportsland SUGO

 

Date

Location

August 1-2

Autopolis

August 23

Tokachi International Speedway

September 19-20

Fuji Speedway

November 7-8

Suzuka Circuit

 

GAZOO Racing Netz Cup Vitz Race Schedule

 

Date

Location

April 12

Twin Ring Motegi

May 2-3

Fuji Speedway

May 10

Autopolis

May 17

Tokachi International Speedway

May 23-24

Sportsland SUGO

June 6-7

Fuji Speedway

June 27-28

Suzuka Circuit

August 1-2

Autopolis

August 8-9

Fuji Speedway

 

 

 

Date

Location

August 23

Tokachi International Speedway

September 5-6

Okayama International Circuit

September 12-13

Autopolis

October 4

Tokachi International Speedway

October 11

Okayama International Circuit

October 17-18

Sportsland SUGO

October 31 – November 1

Twin Ring Motegi

November 7-8

Suzuka Circuit

 

 

 

 

(2) TRD Rally Challenge

Toyota employees will participate as drivers, co-drivers and mechanics to improve their rally knowledge and skills. Toyota also aims to promote rallies and contribute to the local community through participating and disseminating information on the event.

 

(3) GAZOO Racing Challenge Program

GAZOO Racing will carry out programs in the circuit racing and rally fields.

- Circuit racing: GAZOO Racing plans to introduce the S Endurance Challenge program, which will give drivers who place highly in a GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race an opportunity to compete in the Super Taikyu Series.

 

- Rally: Working together with Tommi Mäkinen1, GAZOO Racing is implementing a program to develop young Japanese rally drivers for the global stage.

 

(4) GAZOO Racing "Waku Doki" circuit events and sports driving lessons

In addition to providing the public with a deeper understanding of basic vehicle operations, GAZOO Racing is delivering programs designed for beginners to easily and safely enjoy cars and get a taste of circuit racing. In total, 13 Regular Circuit Racing Programs will be held around Japan in 2015.

 

In addition, GAZOO Racing will conduct a program of activities at Mega Web in Tokyo and other venues, enabling people to experience full braking and slalom driving. GAZOO Racing will also offer sports driving lessons in eight different sessions at circuits around Japan for drivers wanting to improve their sports driving proficiency or to take the next step and compete in events such as the 86/BRZ Race.

 

Guide to "Waku Doki" Events, Programs and Lessons

a. "Waku Doki" circuit event (full braking and slalom experience)2

b. "Waku Doki" regular circuit racing program

c. Sports driving lessons

 

GAZOO Racing "Waku Doki" Circuit Events and Sports Driving Lesson Schedule

 

Date

Location

Type

March 19

Twin Ring Motegi

c

April 2

Fuji Speedway

c

April 8

Okayama International Circuit

c

April 18

Suzuka Circuit

b

June 12

Fugi Speedway

b

June 27

Ebisu Circuit

b

June 30

Sportsland SUGO

c

July 7

Tsukuba Circuit

c

July 19

Nihonkai Maze Circuit

b

July 25

Autopolis

b

July 26

Autopolis

c

 

 

 

Date

Location

Type

August 5

Okayama International Circuit

b

August 25

Tsukuba Circuit

b

August 27

Fuji Speedway

c

September 11

Fuji Speedway

b

September 12

Tokachi International Speedway

b

September 25

Twin Ring Motegi

b

October 10

TS Takata Circuit

b

October 21

Suzuka Circuit

c

November 7

Sportsland SUGO

b

November 29

Asan Circuit

b

 

(5) Providing venues for car enthusiasts

Toyota will promote initiatives to increase venues and opportunities for car enthusiasts to get together around vehicles.

 

- Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival

The festival attracts a large number of car enthusiasts of everything from racing cars to well-cared-for personal cars. Toyota again plans to hold the festival at Fuji Speedway in November.

 

- GAZOO Racing exhibits at custom car shows in Japan

By organizing GAZOO Racing displays at custom car shows such as the Tokyo Auto Salon held in Japan every year, Toyota interacts with car enthusiasts looking at the latest GRMN, G's and concept cars, and obtains feedback for product planning.

 

1Legendary rally driver who made his rally debut in 1985 and had 24 wins in the World Rally Championship (WRC). In 1995, he became a Mitsubishi works driver and won the WRC four years straight between 1996 and 1999. He also achieved impressive performances after transferring to Subaru in 2002.

2TMC holds regular "Waku Doki" circuit events at Mega Web. See the Mega Web website for event schedule (Japanese only): http://www.megaweb.gr.jp/article/wakudoki_driving/

 

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