The Toyota GR Supersport concept is a Le Mans racer for the road
Toyota has its best chance of winning Le Mans for the first time in 2018 than ever before… so how would you feel about driving a road version of its 24 Hours challenger, complete with 1,000 horsepower?
Or – even better – how would you feel about a new sports car, reprising the name Supra, that brings the same race-proven hybrid technology to a mainstream new model that everyone can buy?
These are the ideas that Toyota is teasing us with today after the unveiling in Tokyo of the GR Super Sport concept from the firm’s motorsport arm, Gazoo Racing.
Racing cars for the road are going to huge in 2018 – new ones from McLaren, Aston and Mercedes just for starters – and this street version of the TS050 World Endurance Championship car is Toyota’s lusty response.
We’re not sure how road-worthy it is, but it’s certainly got the looks. It also has the racer’s hybrid drivetrain, made up of 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6 and an electric motor which together pumps out 1,000hp, or 986bhp. Toyota says it is a next-generation super sportscar that’s set to deliver both ultimate power and environmental performance.
Will this concept ever be produced? No one is saying. Whether it is or not, the GR Super Sport’s likely main task is to demonstrate Toyota’s commitment to sporty cars that are fun to drive, while reasserting that the best way to develop such cars is via the racetrack.
Gazoo Racing president Shigeki Tomoyama said: “This is the starting point for Toyota's completely new challenge to develop sportscars from active race cars. 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.”
Which later this year will be kicked off with… the new Supra. Co-developed with BMW in parallel with the new Z4 roadster, the new coupe version of one of Japan’s best-regarded sporting nameplates is odds-on to use a street version of the Toyota Hybrid System (THS), combining petrol and electric power. The company says: “Toyota's continued participation in the WEC is seen as a highly beneficial and necessary project in terms of developing cutting-edge hybrid and electrified vehicle (EV) systems.”
The new car is likely to be all-wheel drive with a six-pot motor, and may even feature an automatic transmission with gear-selector in the firm of an H-pattern gearstick. This was one of the novelties of an earlier Supra teaser, the GR HV sports car concept from the Tokyo Show in 2017. Disguised cars have already been extensively scooped, and been seen testing at the Nurbürgring.
Meanwhile, there’s this little thing called the Quattre Vingt Heures du Mans to get out of the way in June. Without Porsche or Audi, the Toyota TS050 which so nearly won last year will be up against only the new Ginetta in the LMP1 class.
This could turn out to be a memorably sporting year for Toyota…