Toyota Motorsport GmbH is set to develop a new Supra GT4 race car off the back of a concept model it released earlier this year, according its vice president Rob Leupen.
The GR Supra GT4 Concept was revealed in February as a study into the feasibility of engaging the car in future customer and privateer racing activities.
It is set to become the second recent Toyota racing concept to be turned into a physical program, following the announcement of the GR Super Sport WEC Hypercar last week.
Leupen said the Supra, which will also serve as the manufacturer’s flagship model in Super GT next season, will be a “good base car” for a widespread GT4 activation.
“I think it’s a car that is twofold,” he told Sportscar365.
“First of all, you have a car which you can put there, and the main reason is that Toyota wants to get GR, Gazoo Racing, to change the image and to acknowledge it as a car manufacturer which has a motorsport heritage and DNA.
“This is why we are at Le Mans and this is why we are doing WRC – it’s part of a strategy.
“We are doing it with Lexus in GT3, but with the Supra, with the legend of the Supra which I understand is quite big, it’s a good base car and we should use the opportunity.
“This is what Toyota wants to do. It’s about changing a bit the mentality and image of the brand. It’s a bigger activity.
“It’s progressively developing, which is good for us in Cologne [Toyota’s motorsport HQ] because we are involved in this kind of project.”
While acknowledging Toyota’s development of the GT4 racer, Leupen said that the car’s close alignment with the new BMW Z4 has impacted the pace of the process.
The road-going Supra is part of a collaborative design effort with BMW and shares much of its architecture, including engine and gearbox systems, with the Z4.
BMW is already engaged in GT4 racing with the M4, which has been competing internationally since 2017.
“It’s very well possible that they make some progress, but we cannot be too confirmed about this because the car is a cooperation between Toyota and BMW so that makes everything a bit slower, due to the whole situation,” said Leupen.
“In terms of production, where do you get it from? How do you want to do it? What are the entitlements you have on the car and what you can do?
“This is something that’s slowing everything down.”
End-of-Year Race Debut Possible
When asked about the potential scale of a GT4 racing project, Leupen admitted that details of production figures and customer targets “have not yet been finally decided.”
“We will start on a modest level and we need to see how the car is received by potential customers and we’ll see how we like to push for it,” he said.
“As there is a cooperation between BMW and Toyota on this car, time is precious and it’s not always straightforward
“It takes us a bit more time than it did do with the GT86, for example, or the Lexus RC F GT3.
“Somebody in TMG will head this from a technical side, then on the commercial side – if it will develop to that – we will also handle it from TMG.”
Leupen suggested that a race debut could be secured as early as the end of this year, or at the start of 2020, while the concept model is set to run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month.
A GR Supra is also competing in the SP8T class of this weekend’s Nürburgring 24.
“It could be [the Gulf 12 Hours]. We have done some planning, it would be in that direction,” said Leupen.
“We are also close to the Nürburgring and there’s always excitement to go there with the car and we have some good drivers there.
“We are looking at it very seriously, we are planning. TMG has done the concept car and we are looking at developing it into GT4.”