It’s not uncommon for carmakers to have an in-house arm dedicated to performance and motorsports. While the mainstream offerings are the bread and butter, it’s the souped-up versions that serve as opportunities to test out new automotive technologies before they’re brought to the mass market.
Motorsports is where car brands test out innovations for eventual use in production models
For Toyota, its current motorsports efforts can be summed up in two words: Gazoo Racing. The name comes from the Japanese word for image or picture (gazo), and it previously referred to a website that hosted images of vehicles in various Toyota dealerships, a novel concept in the 90s-era Japanese auto industry.
Gazoo Racing first entered the scene in 2007 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring race, where Toyota fielded two used Altezzas. Current Toyota boss Akio Toyoda was vice president at the time, and he participated along with chief test driver Hiromu Naruse. The team, composed of student test drivers and mechanics, was not allowed to use the name ‘Works Toyota Racing’ for the event. They went with Team Gazoo, and the activity was posted on Gazoo.com as an amateur race project.
Toyota boss Akio Toyoda participated as a race driver under the alias 'Morizo'
The Gazoo Racing name was formally adopted in 2009, alongside development efforts that led to the Lexus LF-A and FT-86. This was also the year Toyoda assumed presidency of the company, during which Gazoo Racing’s scope was considerably expanded. The motorsports division’s forays into Nürburgring have given it bragging rights of sorts, as reflected in the sports conversion brand GRMN (Gazoo Racing, tuned by the Meister [master] of the Nürburgring).
Since 2015, Gazoo Racing has served as the overall unit for all of Toyota’s motorsports ventures, incorporating Toyota Gazoo Racing and Lexus Gazoo Racing. Among the efforts supported by the brand are the Finland-based Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT (World Rally Team), Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Europe GmbH, and Toyota Gazoo Racing UK. Its most recent victories were a third consecutive championship at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and finishing first at the Rally Turkey leg of the World Rally Championship, both in 2020.
Toyota Gazoo Racing's efforts resulted in a three-peat win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
The emergence of Gazoo Racing echoes Toyota Racing Development or TRD, the company’s much older performance arm that has been in existence since 1976. But while TRD is about improving the performance of existing standard Toyotas, GR’s mission is to come up with performance models right out of the assembly line. Many of TRD’s motorsports endeavors in Japan have been absorbed into the GR program, although the TRD brand lives on in North America as TRD USA, with a focus on trucks for the consumer market. In the Philippines, the TRD branding is slowly being phased out, as select Toyota dealers will be putting up a Gazoo Racing corner.
Toyota's second GR-branded model, the GR Yaris, will be coming to our shores
Toyota’s gains through Gazoo Racing’s efforts have begun to trickle down to the consumer level. The first GR brand-exclusive vehicle came in the form of the fifth-generation Supra in 2019, as well as a GR version of the Japan-exclusive Daihatsu Copen convertible Kei car. The following year, the GR Yaris became the second Toyota under the performance brand, and it’s scheduled to arrive on our shores soon. A third GR model will be the upcoming second-generation 86, expected to be revealed next month.
This is Toyota's new symbol for performance
The company says that ‘Gazoo’ today refers to ‘garage’, or a place where people work together on improving the smallest details to produce ever-better cars and services for each customer. This dedication to quiet and meticulous excellence will likely define Gazoo Racing’s future success, not only in terms of what they achieve on the track but what they are able to bring to the showrooms. If you want to know more about it, Toyota has dedicated Gazoo Racing pages on Facebook for Japan and the Philippines.
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Know more about Toyota Supra
After years of waiting, the all-new Toyota Supra has finally arrived. Thanks to Toyota Motor Philippines, this highly anticipated sports car is brought to the Philippine market. In terms of sports cars, the Supra has long been considered as the brand's ultimate. The current generation Supra has finally been revived with German DNA into its parts. It's no wonder the overlook of the Toyota GR Supra is very impressive. The aesthetics are also geared towards tuners, modders, and enthusiasts. Its dimensions and chassis are similar to that of the Z4. However, the brand provided twists in terms of styling, design, and everything else in between. The interior of the MkV Supra is absolutely a collaborative effort but with traces of the Toyota brand. The Supra available in the Philippines comes with a 3.0L twin-scroll turbocharged in-line 6-cylinder engine. The fifth-generation Toyota GR Supra has remarkable design elements, including LED headlights with six lenses, a 19-inch forged aluminum, as well as, dual exhaust pipes. It also comes with a list of standard features, such as a heads-up display, touchscreen infotainment setup, multi-information display gauge, and a sound system composed of 12 speakers. The current generation is the 5th generation of Toyota GR Supra. In the Philippines, the prices of the supra depend on the variant color. It is available in eight colors: Matte Storm Gray, Deep Blue Metallic, Ice Gray Metallic, Silver Metallic, Lighting Yellow, Black Metallic, White Metallic, and Prominence Red.
Joseph Paolo Estabillo