Toyota Gazoo Racing has withdrawn its factory SP-Pro entry from this year’s Nürburgring 24 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its preparations.
The Toyota team was due to run a Lexus LC in the September 26-27 race, while Japanese stars Hiroaki Ishiura, Masahiro Sasaki, Naoya Gamou and reigning Super GT champion Kazuya Oshima were set to drive.
However, travel restrictions meant that the Toyota crew couldn’t arrange enough test outings on the Nordschleife to prepare the drivers and to develop the car’s new V8 engine.
It has resulted in Toyota withdrawing from the Nürburgring 24, marking the first time in 13 years that the company’s factory effort won’t be represented on the grid.
The manufacturer has pledged to return in 2021 with the Lexus, which finished 53rd overall in the race last year.
“We have chosen not to participate in this year’s race,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who competed in last year’s N24.
“However, together with all our mechanics, engineers, professional drivers, suppliers, sponsors, and partners, we will continue to take on the challenges of making ever-better cars.
“It is my hope that all our fans continue to watch over our activities and continue lending their tremendous support.
“The other day, a friend who lives in Nürburg sent me a photograph of the ‘Nürburg cherry blossoms’—beautiful flowers that bloomed again this year.
“For the past 13 years, every year, the team and I have prayed for safety and pledged to make ever-better cars in front of those cherry blossoms before the race.
“We are unable to do so this year, and my disappointment is immense.”
Pandemic Also Affecting Supra GT4 Deliveries
The delivery of the first batch of Toyota GR Supra GT4s from the TGR Europe facility in Cologne has been slightly delayed due to the coronavirus situation, although customers can still expect to receive their cars this year.
TGR-E vice president Rob Leupen told Sportscar365 that several completed Supra models are in storage and awaiting delivery to their European buyers.
“We have the cars available to customers, but they cannot race at the present moment,” he said.
“We have selected the customers and they will get the car soon. We are preparing for the first race of our customers with this car.
“We have said that we will do five cars in Europe this year, and then we will prepare for next year which will go in higher amounts. Of course, this depends on the number of customers, but the target is to go beyond 20 cars, or as much as possible.”