Autocar, the original weekly car magazine, helped Toyota’s new GT86 sport coupé claim its first UK motorsport victory in the third round of the Toyota Sprint Series at Barkston Heath last weekend.


Having awarded the standard Toyota GT86 a rare five-stars-out-of-five road test rating in July 2012, Autocar teamed up with Fensport Performance to develop a competition version of the car.

The machine made its competitive debut last weekend in the hands of Fensport boss Adrian Smith and Autocar’s editor-at-large Steve Sutcliffe. While Smith set the quickest time of 54.55 sec at the Lincolnshire venue, Sutcliffe took third in a field of more than 50 standard and modified Toyotas.

The successful start to ‘Project GT86’ came after a flurry of hard work to prepare the car at Fensport’s Cambridgeshire base. The standard GT86 was launched in the UK in July, so the preparation team had just one month to turn the road car into a competition-ready machine.

Building on the car’s essential qualities of light weight, agility and strong grip, Fensport fitted competition-spec suspension, wheels and tyres, stripped out the interior and fitted a racing seat. The 2.0-litre ‘boxer’ engine and six-speed gearbox remained as standard for the first competitive outing.

Sutcliffe said: “Considering ‘Project GT86’ was still just a figment of our imagination less than one month ago, it’s quite amazing that it did so well on its maiden voyage. And I’d never done a sprint before, either, so was quite chuffed personally to finish third overall against such stiff competition. Many thanks to the brilliant (and very quick) Adrian Smith at Fensport for making it all happen.”

Autocar will report on the continuing development of ‘Project GT86’ in a series of articles throughout the coming months. Further technical tweaks are planned ahead of the team’s next outing at Croft, North Yorkshire, on 16 September.