2016 Toyota GAZOO Racecars & Series Preview – New TS050 LMP1 Revamp, WRC Yarii + New C-HR Racing and RC GT3


Toyota Motorsport GmbH is now Toyota GAZOO Racing — with the new Euro-based entity bringing much of Toyota and Lexus’ racing efforts under one roof.

The 2016 season outline is mindboggling!  Lots of new racecars and globetrotting race series.  We have a look at new rally cars:

— Land Cruiser rally truck

— Yaris WRC

— Yaris GRMN

— GT86

And new endurance racers in the form of two upgraded Lexus RC’s, a GT86 and even a new Nurbirgring entry for this year: the C-HR Racing.  No sight of this production version of the concept seen in 2015, nor the race version.  But it is firmly in the roster — ensuring its debut by April or so at the latest.

The headline act?

The very new TS050 Hybrid.

One massive generational leap ahead of the 2013-2015 TS040, this new model will keep the heat on Audi and Porsche’s podium-snatchers.  The ultimate goal, of course, is an outright Le Mans 24-hour win.

Just a handful of press conference photos so far of the TS050, but it looks dramatically different from all sides.  Much lower front planes overall meet giant, bluff front fenders — not unlike the latest Audi and Porsche 919, frankly. But with a lower overall front spoiler clip and hoodline.  Interesting aero, certainly.  Out back, a taller center spine and slightly shorter length than before is notable from the images so far.  Also, a new carved-out reverse airvent cuts deep into the side sills. Intriguing. Watch this space for all the TS050 Hybrid details in the next weeks.

Will Big T make its race-winning dreams come true this year?  The stars certainly seem aligned for a big Gazoo offensive…  on many fronts!


2016 Toyota GAZOO Racecars & Series Preview

Toyota GAZOO Racing Outlines 2016 Motorsports Activities


Toyota City, Japan, February 4, 2016―Toyota GAZOO Racing, the in-house brand responsible for motorsports activities administered by Toyota Motor Corporation, today announced its schedule for 2016.

Motorsports events offer a crucial means of conveying the excitement of driving, and are at the heart of Toyota’s efforts to foster a greater following of car fans and enthusiasts. By conducting these activities under the umbrella of Toyota GAZOO Racing, Toyota can focus on developing its people and improving its products, thereby contributing to the creation of ever-better cars.

In 2017, Toyota will return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Preparations are ongoing, with a rally vehicle based on the Yaris compact hatchback currently being developed to meet FIA 2017 regulations.

Under the Toyota GAZOO Racing team name, Toyota will also participate in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, and the Japanese Rally Championship. In WEC, 2016 will see the debut of the new Toyota TS050 Hybrid race vehicle, with which the team will aim to recapture the series championship and achieve its first win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June. The TS050 Hybrid utilizes a new hybrid system developed at Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Center. In the 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, Toyota will celebrate its tenth year of participation by entering three cars: the Toyota C-HR Racing, and the Lexus RC F and RC.

In the U.S., Toyota will continue to compete in NASCAR events. In South America, Toyota will support Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd., who will participate in the Dakar Rally in early 2017.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Toyota will participate in the Super GT and Super Formula series, both of which are in the top tier of motorsports events within Japan, and will also compete in the Super Taikyu series with the 86 coupe.

As part of its initiatives to cultivate young drivers who hope to compete in high-level international racing events, Toyota will continue to run the Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program for rallies, and the Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP) for races.

Toyota will also actively try to raise awareness of automotive culture, creating a new generation of car enthusiasts in the process. Key to these efforts will be a wide range of participative, informal motorsports events targeting participation by ordinary customers, such as the Toyota GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race, Toyota GAZOO Racing Netz Cup Vitz Race, and Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge. Additionally, Toyota will collaborate with dealers nationwide to hold a variety of interactive events at circuits and similar venues.

Furthermore, by utilizing digital platforms and social networking sites, Toyota will continue to share information about upcoming races, rallies, and events. Additionally, Toyota will share information on its lineups of tuned and performance models, such as the GRMN and G’s series, which have been adapted based on racing and rally experiences.

A new logo for Toyota GAZOO Racing activities was also announced today, along with a unified color scheme that will be implemented for all vehicles that race in WRC, WEC, the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, and the Japanese Rally Championship.

New Toyota GAZOO Racing logo

Going forward, Toyota will continue to work together with its affiliates to create fun and exhilarating experiences that publicly raise the profile of motorsports.

Outline of Toyota’s 2016 Motorsports Activities

  1. FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
  • Early last year, Toyota announced its decision to return to WRC, seeing the series as an important platform to help promote its ever-better-cars initiatives.
  • Under the leadership of Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen, Toyota is developing a rally vehicle in Finland for participation from 2017 onwards, with Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) developing the engine.
  • The vehicle is based on the Yaris hatchback, and is work is currently underway to ensure compliance with 2017 FIA regulations. Testing of the actual vehicle is scheduled to start in March.
Team name Toyota GAZOO Racing
Team representative Akio Toyoda
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen (Finland)
Vehicle Yaris WRC (length: 3,910 mm; width: 1,820 mm)
Engine Toyota engine (under development at TMG)
1.6-liter direct-injection turbo (in line with global race engine specifications)
Tires Michelin
  1. FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC)
  • The FIA World Endurance Championship has taken place every year since 2012. In 2016, Toyota will compete in all nine championship fixtures, including a new race in Mexico.
  • This year’s highlights will include the championship’s third and seventh races: the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 18–19), and the 6 Hours of Fuji (October 16).
  • TMG and Toyota GAZOO Racing have applied to enter two of the newly-developed TS050 Hybrid vehicles into all nine races.
  • The THS-R powertrain, developed at Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan, features not only a new engine, but also front and rear motors/generators with increased capacity to better power all wheels. Toyota plans to utilize these advanced hybrid technologies in its mass-production hybrid vehicles.
  • All vehicles will be equipped with Michelin tires.
  • Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Stéphane Sarrazin, and Mike Conway will be joined by newcomer Kamui Kobayashi.
Team Vehicle Car no. Driver
Toyota GAZOO Racing TS050 Hybrid TBD Anthony Davidson (U.K.)
Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland)
Kazuki Nakajima (Japan)
TBD Stéphane Sarrazin (France)
Mike Conway (U.K.)
Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)
  1. Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race
  • Toyota GAZOO Racing will enter three vehicles―a Toyota C-HR Racing, a Lexus RC, and a Lexus RC F―into the 44th 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race. The event will be held in Germany from May 26 to 29. This year, Toyota will be celebrating its tenth year of participation in the race under the GAZOO name.
  • The tough driving conditions faced by the drivers and crews will further enhance Toyota’s abilities to train personnel who can develop ever-better cars.
  • The C-HR Racing model is the result of efforts to apply new production methods to the creation of a crossover vehicle.
  • The RC incorporates improvements made to reliability and quality, as well as features based on new technologies.
  • Having participated in the development of the RC F, Tom’s will also supervise the race, further contributing to Toyota’s efforts to train employees and develop ever-better cars.
  • All vehicles will be equipped with Bridgestone tires.
Team Vehicle Car no. Driver
Toyota GAZOO Racing Toyota C-HR Racing TBD Masahiko Kageyama (Japan)
Kumi Sato (Japan)
Hiroki Yoshida (Japan)
Lexus RC TBD Takayuki Kinoshita (Japan)
Takamitsu Matsui (Japan)
Naoya Gamo (Japan)
Toyota GAZOO Racing with Tom’s Lexus RC F TBD Takeshi Tsuchiya (Japan)
Tatsuya Kataoka (Japan)
Kazuya Oshima (Japan)
Takuto Iguchi (Japan)
  • Toyota will once again compete in the NASCAR series through Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.
  • Toyota will compete in both the Sprint Cup Series and the Xfinity Series with the Toyota Camry. The Toyota Tundra will compete in the Camping World Truck Series.
  • All vehicles will be fitted with Goodyear tires.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing Teams
Team No. Driver (all from U.S.)
Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Denny Hamlin
18 Kyle Busch
19 Carl Edwards
20 Matt Kenseth
Furniture Row Racing 78 Martin Truex Jr.
  1. Dakar Rally
  • Toyota regularly supports Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body, which competes in the Dakar Rally with Toyota Land Cruiser 200 vehicles.
  • At the 2016 Dakar Rally held in January this year, one of the team’s vehicles finished in first place in the Cross-Country Series Production Vehicles class for the third consecutive year, while the other finished the race in fifth place in the same class.
Vehicle Driver / Navigator Position in Cross-Country Series Production Vehicles class1 Position in Diesel Cross-Country Series Production Vehicles class Overall position
(Land Cruiser 200)
Driver Nicolas Gibon (France) 1 1 32
Co-driver Jean Pierre Garcin (France)
(Land Cruiser 200)
Driver Akira Miura2 (Japan) 5 5 48
Co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter (France)

1Includes gasoline and diesel classes

2Toyota Auto Body employee

  1. Super GT
  1. GT500 Class
The Lexus RC F will be competing in this top-tier Japanese race series. All vehicles are equipped with two-liter, four-cylinder, RI4AG direct-injection gasoline turbo engines. Lexus GAZOO Racing will be supporting the following teams with involvement from Toyota Racing Development.
Class Team Vehicle No. Driver Tires
GT500 Lexus Team LeMans Wako’s Wako’s 4CR RC F 6 Kazuya Oshima (Japan) BS
Andrea Caldarelli (Italy)
Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh WedsSport ADVAN RC F 19 Yuhi Sekiguchi (Japan) YH
Yuji Kunimoto (Japan)
Lexus Team Tom’s TBD 36 Daisuke Ito (Japan) BS
Nick Cassidy (New Zealand)
KeePer Tom’s RC F 37 James Rossiter (UK) BS
Ryo Hirakawa (Japan)
Lexus Team Zent Cerumo Zent Cerumo RC F 38 Yuji Tachikawa (Japan) BS
Hiroaki Ishiura (Japan)
Lexus Team Sard Denso Kobelco Sard RC F 39 Kohei Hirate (Japan) BS
Heikki Kovalainen (Finland)
Tire legend
BS: Bridgestone; YH: Yokohama
  1. GT300 Class
Toyota will enter a new Toyota Prius and a Lexus RC F GT3 in the GT GT300 class series.
Class Team Vehicle No. Driver (all from Japan) Tires
GT300 apr Toyota Prius apr GT 30 Hiroaki Nagai YH
Kota Sasaki
Toyota Prius apr GT 31 Koki Saga BS
Yuichi Nakayama
LM corsa Syntium LM corsa RC F 60 Akira Iida YH
Hiroki Yoshimoto
Tire legend
BS: Bridgestone; YH: Yokohama
  1. Japanese Super Formula Championship
  • For the top category of Japanese formula car races, Toyota has developed a two-liter, four-cylinder, RI4A direct-injection gasoline turbo engine. Toyota will be supplying 11 vehicles to six teams.
  • Beginning with the 2016 series, all vehicles will be equipped with tires made by Yokohama Rubber Co.,Ltd.
Team No. Driver
P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 1 Hiroaki Ishiura (Japan)
2 Yuji Kunimoto (Japan)
Kondo Racing 3 TBD
Sunoco Team LeMans 7 Narain Karthikeyan (India)
8 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)
KCMG 18 Yuichi Nakayama (Japan)
Team Impul 19 Joao Paulo de Oliveira (Brazil)
20 TBD
Team Tom’s 36 Andre Lotterer (Germany)
37 Kazuki Nakajima (Japan)
  1. Japanese Rally Championship
  • As it did last year, Toyota GAZOO Racing will compete in the pinnacle of Japanese rallying, entering a model based on the Vitz hatchback (sold as the Yaris outside of Japan).
  • Toyota’s participation will be wide-ranging, with staff acting as mechanics and the company’s involvement covering areas from vehicle development to racing. The purpose of participation is to train employees and cultivate expertise required for vehicle development.
Team Vehicle Drivers (co-drivers) Engineers and technicians
Toyota GAZOO Racing TGR Vitz GRMN Turbo TBD Toyota personnel
  1. Super Taikyu series
Since 2012, Toyota GAZOO Racing has sponsored Tom’s Spirit, a team competing in the Super Taikyu series with the Toyota 86 sports coupe. This year the team will enter the series with the Toyota Team Tom’s Spirit 86, aiming to convey the fun-to-drive nature of sports cars such as the 86.
Team Vehicle Drivers
Toyota Team Tom’s Spirit Toyota Team Tom’s Spirit 86 Takuto Iguchi
Takamitsu Matsui
Naoya Gamo
  1. Japan-based participatory motorsports events
In the hope of extending the enjoyment of driving to all, Toyota GAZOO Racing will provide a full range of driving activities throughout the year at venues around Japan, with increased support for people who would like to compete in participatory motorsports events such as one-make races. From this year onward, the TRD Rally Challenge will be integrated with Toyota GAZOO Racing’s activities, and will be known as Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge.
  1. Toyota GAZOO Racing 86/BRZ Race (Organized by the Toyota Cars Race Association)
Toyota GAZOO Racing will continue to hold this series of races for street-legal cars, adjusting some of the standards to encourage more car fans to participate.
Date Location
April 2-3 Twin Ring Motegi
April 23-24 Okayama International Circuit
May 14-15 Sportsland SUGO
June 4-5 Fuji Speedway
July 3 Autopolis
Date Location
September 2-3 Fuji Speedway
October 2 Tokachi International Speedway
October 29-30 Suzuka Circuit
TBD (coinciding with TGRF) Fuji Speedway
All rounds will be held in two formats: the Professional Series and the Clubman Series.
  1. Toyota GAZOO Racing Netz Cup Vitz Race (Organized by the Toyota Cars Race Association)
Toyota GAZOO Racing will continue to hold this series of races for street-legal cars.
Date Location
April 10 Twin Ring Motegi
April 23-24 Okayama International Circuit
May 21-22 Autopolis
May 28-29 Okayama International Circuit
June 4-5 Fuji Speedway
June 26 Tokachi International Speedway
July 3 Autopolis
July 10 Sportsland SUGO
July 31 Tokachi International Speedway
Date Location
August 6-7 Fuji Speedway
September 3 Fuji Speedway
September 11 Sportsland SUGO
September 25 Suzuka Circuit
October 2 Tokachi International Speedway
October 16 Autopolis
October 29-30 Suzuka Circuit
November 5-6 Fuji Speedway
TBD (coinciding with TGRF) Fuji Speedway
  1. Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge
To date, the TRD Rally Challenge program has been organized as a Toyota Racing Development event by Toyota Technocraft Co., Ltd. From 2016, it will be consolidated under Toyota GAZOO Racing’s activities, and will be held as the Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge. In order to encourage even more people to attend and participate, the program will take the format of a series of 16 one-day rally events, which will be held on Sundays between February and November at venues across Japan.
Date Location
February 21 Chitose (Hokkaido Prefecture)
April 3 Nantan (Kyoto Prefecture)
April 24 Kiso (Nagano Prefecture)
May 29 Tokushima (Tokushima Prefecture)
June 12 Rikubetsu (Hokkaido Prefecture)
June 19 Takaoka (Toyama Prefecture)
June 26 Akitakata (Hiroshima Prefecture)
July 10 Yoshinogari (Saga Prefecture)
Date Location
July 17 Hirosaki (Aomori Prefecture)
July 31 Shibukawa (Gunma Prefecture)
August 21 Fukushima (Fukushima Prefecture)
August 28 Tango Peninsula (Kyoto Prefecture)
September 4 Toyoura (Hokkaido Prefecture)
September 11 Asamushi (Aomori Prefecture)
October 16 Kyoryu Katsuyama (Fukui Prefecture)
November 6 Shinshiro (Aichi Prefecture)
  1. Driver development initiatives in Japan
  1. Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program
This program started in 2015 with the aim of cultivating young drivers to compete on the world stage. Takamoto Katsuta and Hiroki Arai, both of whom were selected last year, will continue with the program this year and will train to participate in rallies in Europe under Tommi Mäkinen’s guidance. In 2016, they are scheduled to compete in the Finnish Rally Championship series.
Driver Co-driver
Takamoto Katsuta Daniel Barritt (U.K.)
Hiroki Arai Phil Hall (U.K.)
  1. Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP)
  • This program supports young drivers who hope to compete in top racing events around the world.
  • The program is dedicated to identifying new talent, and provides a framework to hone the abilities of participants, depending on their particular strengths.
  • In 2016, Ryo Hirakawa, a Toyota Young Drivers Program participant, will compete in the European Le Mans Series for the first time.
  • Sho Tsuboi, who won the inaugural FIA F4 Japanese Championship in 2015, will compete in the Japanese Formula Three Championship this year.
List of Toyota Young Drivers Program participants for 2016
Driver (all Japanese) Race category Team Remarks / 2015 results
Ryo Hirakawa Super GT Lexus Team Tom’s
  • Super Formula (8th overall in series)
  • Super GT GT500 (5th overall in series)
European Le Mans Series TBD
Yuichi Nakayama Japanese Super Formula Championship KCMG
  • Competed in Super Formula
  • Super GT GT300 (3rd overall in series)
Super GT (GT300) apr
Kenta Yamashita Japanese Formula Three Championship Team Tom’s
  • Japanese Formula Three Championship (Five wins, 2nd overall in series)
Sho Tsuboi Japanese Formula Three Championship Team Tom’s
  • Won FIA F4 Japanese Championship
2016 race schedules for Toyota Young Drivers Program graduates
Driver (all Japanese) Race category Team
Kazuki Nakajima FIA World Endurance Championship Toyota GAZOO Racing
Japanese Super Formula Championship Team Tom’s
Kamui Kobayashi FIA World Endurance Championship Toyota GAZOO Racing
Japanese Super Formula Championship Sunoco Team LeMans
Hiroaki Ishiura Super GT Lexus Team Zent Cerumo
Japanese Super Formula Championship P.MU/CERUMO・INGING
Kohei Hirate Super GT Lexus Team Sard
Kazuya Oshima Super GT Lexus Team LeMans Wako’s
Yuji Kunimoto Super GT Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh
Japanese Super Formula Championship P.MU/CERUMO・INGING
  1. Formula Toyota Racing School (FTRS)
Formula Toyota Racing School provides a way for Toyota to conduct driving education and also expand its motorsports foundation through the discovery and cultivation of Japanese racing drivers who will one day be able to compete in top racing categories around the world. From 2016 on, support for race participation will be provided to the participants deemed to have the greatest driving potential.
The 2016 FTRS schedule has not yet been determined.
  1. FIA F4 Japanese Championship
Toyota GAZOO Racing will support young drivers competing in the FIA F4 Japanese Championship, which is the entry class formula category. Seven events and 14 races have been scheduled
  1. Five Continents Drive Project
The Five Continents Drive Project, which Toyota began in Australia in 2014, finished its North American leg, the Ever-Better Expedition, in 2016. The project is scheduled to continue in South America later this year.
Under this project, which is endorsed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, employees will test their vehicles by driving in harsh conditions around the world, gaining experience and knowledge of road conditions that cannot be predicted or replicated during testing. The understanding obtained in this exercise will support Toyota’s goal of developing ever-better cars and cultivating expertise in employees. Toyota aims to use the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 as a milestone for the completion of this project.
Year Continent Distance driven Number of days driven
2014 Australia Approx. 20,000 km 72 days
2015 North America Approx. 28,000 km 110 days
2016 South America Approx. 20,000 km (planned) 100 days (planned)
  1. Toyota GAZOO Racing Waku Doki circuit events and sports driving lessons
In addition to providing members of the public with a deeper understanding of basic vehicle operations, Toyota GAZOO Racing is delivering programs designed to allow beginners to easily and safely enjoy cars and get a taste of circuit racing. In total, 14 Regular Circuit Racing Programs will be held across Japan in 2016. In addition, Toyota GAZOO Racing will conduct activities that offer participants the chance to experience full braking and slalom driving techniques. Toyota GAZOO Racing will also offer sports driving lessons in nine different sessions at various circuits across Japan. These events are aimed at drivers wanting to improve their sports driving proficiency or to take the next step and compete in events such as the 86/BRZ Race.
  1. Waku Doki circuit event (full braking and slalom experience)
    These circuit events will provide a deeper understanding of vehicle behavior during basic driving operations.
  2. Waku Doki regular circuit racing program
    This program recreates the experience of circuit driving.
  3. Sports driving lessons
    Lessons will be provided to help drivers advance their skills and prepare for competition in events such as the 86/BRZ Race series.
Date Location Type
March 31 Twin Ring Motegi c
April 5 Okayama International Circuit c
April 26 Sportsland SUGO c
June 2 Fuji Speedway (First session) c
June 18 Autopolis (First session) b
June 19 Autopolis (First session) c
July 2 Ebisu circuit b
July 6 Twin Ring Motegi b
July 17 Asan Circuit b
July 19 Tsukuba Circuit c
July 31 Nihonkai Maze Circuit b
August 3 Okayama International Circuit b
Date Location Type
August 30 Fuji Speedway (Second session) c
August 31 Fuji Speedway (“mobilitas”) b
September 6 Tsukuba Circuit b
September 11 Tokachi International Speedway b
September 17 TS Takata Circuit b
September 21 Fuji Speedway (short) b
October 22 Autopolis (Second session) b
October 23 Autopolis (Second session) c
October 26 Suzuka Circuit c
November 5 Sportsland SUGO b
November 9 Suzuka Circuit b
Toyota holds regular Waku Doki circuit events (full braking and slalom experience) at Mega Web, its vehicle experience facility in Tokyo.
  1. Providing venues for car fans
Toyota will seek to provide venues and opportunities for enthusiasts to gather and exchange opinions and ideas about cars.
  1. Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival
    This annual festival attracts a large number of car fans with a wide range of interests. As usual, Toyota plans to hold the festival at Fuji Speedway in November.
  2. Toyota GAZOO Racing Park
    With the goal of encouraging more people to become interested in cars, Toyota will hold a variety of events aimed at people of all ages.
  3. Toyota GAZOO Racing exhibitions at custom car shows in Japan
    Toyota GAZOO Racing organizes displays at custom car shows in Japan, such as the annual Tokyo Auto Salon. Through these events, visitors can get a good look at such vehicles as at the latest cars in the GRMN and G’s lineups, as well as concept cars and racing vehicles. This kind of interaction enables Toyota to incorporate feedback into product planning.
What do you think?

About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine. He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank. Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.