TEAM TOYOTA GB RETURNS TO RACING WITH GT86
A famous name from British motorsport history is to return to the track in September with an entry from Team Toyota GB in the UK’s toughest race, the Britcar 24 Hours. The newly reformed squad will field a Toyota GT86 in the Production Class of the Silverstone enduro. The livery on the new coupe will echo that of the double British Touring Car Championship winning AE86 from the mid-1980s.
Work on the first British racing GT86 is well underway at the Buckinghamshire technical centre of GPRM, the race preparation firm behind the successful BTCC Toyota Avensis prototype. The emphasis is on turning the potent 2.0-litre sports car into a competitive track machine while retaining as much of the standard road car’s specification as possible.
GPRM’s Gary Blackham and Roger King will oversee Team Toyota GB, and Blackham believes the GT86 will be a strong contender: “The new Toyota has all the makings of a great production class racer. We are concentrating our efforts on stripping back the chassis, lightening and strengthening it and of course equipping it with a roll cage and all the other safety gear required, as well as quick-refuelling equipment. Other than that, the GT86 will remain essentially in road car form.”
An announcement on who will drive the GT86 in the 24 Hours will be made in coming weeks.
Powered by a 16-valve double overhead cam horizontally opposed ‘boxer’ engine delivering 197bhp, the Toyota GT86 captures some of the best elements of three models from Toyota’s rich sporting heritage: the Sports 800, 2000GT and AE86. It went on to sale in the UK to critical acclaim at the beginning of July.
The Britcar 24 Hours is the only round-the-clock race held in Britain for sports and GT cars and last year attracted a 55-car field. The action takes place on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit over the weekend of 22 and 23 September.
Team Toyota GB earned fame in the 1980s and ’90s thanks to championship victories with the Corolla in the British Touring Car Championship and UK rallying. The team’s last appearance was in the BTCC in 1995 with the Carina Es raced by Julian Bailey and Tim Sugden.