Toyota, 50 years in motorsport PDF Print E-mail

Toyota (Panasonic Toyota Racing)

Article Index

page 1 - Toyota, season and overall statistics
page 2 - Toyota, Racing in Formula 1
page 3 - Toyota, Behind the Scenes – Back at Base
page 4 - Toyota, Behind the Scenes - At the Track
page 5 - Toyota, 50 years in motorsport


 

50 years of Toyota in motorsport

In 2007 Toyota is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its involvement in motorsport, and the unveiling of Panasonic Toyota Racing’s new TF107 in Cologne on 12 January signalled the next step in that history.
It all began in 1957 with an entry in the Australian Rally that started and finished in Melbourne. It is therefore fitting that half a century later the TF107 will make its debut in the Australian Grand Prix in the very same city.
Much has changed during the journey from those humble beginnings, from a single Toyopet Crown road car to the multinational Panasonic Toyota Racing team of today. But one thing has remained constant, and that is the company’s commitment to take on new challenges and its determination to succeed.
An appreciation of heritage is not just a question of nostalgia, but it also reflects the very heart of the Toyota Way, the principles by which the company and the team is run. One of the key elements is kaizen, or continuous improvement. The Panasonic Toyota Racing team is built on the solid foundations of experience
gained over the last 50 years.

“Fifty years is an amazing record,” says Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita. “In the beginning there was no interest in motorsport in Japan, until Toyota entered in 1957. There were no sports cars, therefore they used a road car. Toyota’s entry was just one car, a Crown, with two Japanese drivers and an Australian navigator. They had some mechanical troubles, but in the end they finished, which was very good news! It was a significant challenge in Toyota history. “Basically there are two reasons why we are in motorsport. The first one is the challenging spirit of this company and the motivation for our engineers. And the second is the commercial issue, promoting Toyota’s brand value, which has been spread worldwide. “Personally, I entered Toyota in Japan in 1969, and I moved to the motorsport area in 1987. Compared with 50, my 20 years in racing seems like a very short time! However, I’m now very pleased to be working in Cologne as part of what
you might call the extended line.”
Toyota’s proud history in motorsport is filled with success, and winning is the goal for Panasonic Toyota Racing in a milestone year. “I think it’s an important anniversary,” says team President John Howett. “There
is a real a heritage of motorsport in Toyota. To an extent most people are familiar Toyota 7 and the awesome GT-One, lined up alongside the new TF107 but they will continue throughout the year.

In June Toyota is the featured marque at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed. A contemporary Panasonic Toyota Racing car will be joined by some famous machines from the past 50 years, including a specially-built replica of the Toyopet Crown of 1957.
Later this year sees another link to the past when the Japanese Grand Prix returns to Fuji Speedway after a 30-year absence, following Toyota’s acclaimed revamp of the spectacular circuit it took over in 2000.
Over the years the track has played a significant role in Toyota’s sporting history in sportscars, touring cars and Formula Three. Panasonic Toyota Racing intends to continue that successful heritage at the classic venue.

Toyota 7 and the awesome GT-One, lined up alongside the new TF107 but they will continue throughout the year. In June Toyota is the featured marque at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed. A contemporary Panasonic Toyota Racing car will be joined by some famous machines from the past 50 years, including a specially-built replica of the Toyopet Crown of 1957.
Later this year sees another link to the past when the Japanese Grand Prix returns to Fuji Speedway after a 30-year absence, following Toyota’s acclaimed revamp of the spectacular circuit it took over in 2000.
Over the years the track has played a significant role in Toyota’s sporting history in sportscars, touring cars and Formula Three. Panasonic Toyota Racing intends to continue that successful heritage at the classic venue.

The first works-entered racing car, the 2000GT proved successful on the track, especially in endurance events. It took third place in the 1966 Japanese GP at Fuji, and achieved a number of international speed records at a testing ground near Tokyo. The car also became a pop culture icon after Toyota’s motorsport
branch TRD (then called TOSCO) prepared a unique open car for the use of Sean Connery in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. By 1968 the premier category of racing in Japan was run to Group 7 rules, the
equivalent of the popular Can-Am series in North America. Toyota designed and built its first dedicated racing car in the form of the Toyota 7. Initially powered by a newly developed 3-litre V8, it featured suspension derived from that of the 2000GT.
The car won races, but Toyota’s main rivals had opted for bigger engines, so a faster 5-litre V8 version with a much-improved new chassis was introduced in July 1969. Hiroshi Fushida and Yoshio Otsubo gave it a debut victory in the Fuji 1000kms.
Among those to help to develop it was Vic Elford, who the previous year had won the Daytona 24 Hours, Monte Carlo Rally and Targa Florio with Porsche (and also found time to make his F1 debut!). Elford finished fourth in the Japanese GP at Fuji in October and was impressed by his first taste of a Japanese racing car.
The Toyota 7 also won the Can-Am race in Japan thanks to Minoru Kawai in the same year.
In 1970 Toyota introduced a turbocharged version of the 5-litre V8, which produced more power than the company’s dynos could accurately measure – some 800bhp plus! It was one of the first turbo engines ever built for road racing.
A new chassis was also more competitive than its predecessors. Unfortunately, the arrival of this awesome final development of the Toyota 7 programme coincided with the end of the ‘big banger’ era in Japan, and thus the car never actually raced. General economic conditions then put a brake on high-profile domestic manufacturer racing activities for a few years.
Meanwhile, an indication of where Toyota’s international motorsport future lay came in January 1970. Having raced the sportscar at Fuji, Vic Elford returned to the Monte Carlo Rally – where he had won the previous year – at the wheel of a Toyota Corona Mark II. The car showed promise, but did not make the finish.
Nevertheless, a seed had been sown.

The Success – On the Road to F1
Toyota’s move into international rallying first made the headlines in the RAC Rally at the end of 1972. Toyota entered a 1.6-litre Celica for Swedish driver Ove Andersson and his British navigator Gerry Phillips, and the pair survived the rigours of the event in an encouraging ninth place overall, while also winning
Class 5. It was the start of a programme that led directly to the entry into Grand Prix racing some 30 years later.
Andersson would continue to have occasional outings in Toyotas for the next two years (sometimes with Jean Todt as co-driver), winning his class in Portugal in 1974. The birth of Andersson Motorsport in 1975 then saw him become inextricably linked with the manufacturer. Initially based in Brussels, the operation was to become famous as Toyota Team Europe. Toyota gained its first outright international World Championship successes with Hannu Mikkola in 1975, the Finn taking his Corolla to victory in the 1000 Lakes in his home
country. He also won the Australian South Pacific Rally.
In 1979 Toyota Team Europe relocated to Cologne, and major success soon followed. Victories in Africa emphasised the strength and reliability of the cars, with lead drivers Bjorn Waldegaard and Juha Kankkunen sharing wins in the gruelling Ivory Coast (1983-85-86) and Safari (1984-85-86) events.
However, the most significant landmark was Carlos Sainz’s victory in the 1990 FIA Drivers’ World Championship, the first to be earned by Toyota. The next logical target was the prestigious manufacturers’ title, and Toyota came frustratingly close when finishing runner-up four times in 1989-90-91-92.
In 1993 Toyota bought TTE, and it was renamed Toyota Motorsport GmbH. That year Andersson and his team finally achieved their goal by winning the manufacturers’ crown, while Kankkunen also won the drivers’ championship. This historic double success was repeated in 1994, with Didier Auriol winning
the drivers’ title. A third manufacturers’ World Championship was earned in 1999.
By that time Cologne had already taken the first steps towards Grand Prix racing, via the Le Mans project. The Toyota name had first appeared in the 24 Hours when it supplied an engine to the privateer Sigma team in 1975, but the company’s long relationship with the race really began in the early eighties with
the Group C era and the entry of the TOM’S team.
Toyota’s first official works Le Mans effort came in 1985, with Satoru Nakajima among the drivers. Initially the cars used a 4-cylinder turbo engine, which wassuperceded in 1989 by a V8. In 1989-90 Toyota entered the full World Sportscar Championship from the base of TOM’S GB in England.In 1992-93 Toyota ran at Le Mans with the superb TS010 car, designed by the famed Tony Southgate and powered by a 3-.5-litre V10 that was similar to contemporary F1 engines. The car earned a second place in the first year and
only niggling gearbox problems cost victory in 1993, although Eddie Irvine set a new lap record. Irvine also came close for Toyota in 1994, finishing second with a privately-entered turbo car after a late delay cost victory.
The company returned to Le Mans with an all-new project in 1998, this time developed and run out of Cologne by Toyota Motorsport. The 3.6-litre V8- powered GT-One proved very quick in the face of strong competition from several works entries, qualifying second and setting fastest lap.
In 1999 Toyota took pole position, but frustrations in the race meant that the team had to settle for the marque’s third second place. The focus on the move to Grand Prix racing meant that there was no third shot at a Le Mans victory with the GT-One project.
While the rallying and Le Mans programme provide the direct link to F1, Toyota has been successful in other areas of motorsport. Since 1974 many young drivers have used Toyota power in F3 as they worked their way up the ranks, and Toyota has contributed to many championship successes, as well as numerous
victories in the Macau GP.
Among those to win national titles on their way to F1 were Gunnar Nilsson (Britain, 1975), Riccardo Patrese (Italy, 1976), Bruno Giacomelli (Italy, 1976), Elio de Angelis (Italy, 1977), Nelson Piquet (Britain, 1978), Stefan Johansson (Britain, 1980), Ayrton Senna (Britain, 1983), JJ Lehto (Britain, 1988) and Pedro
de la Rosa (Japan, 1995). That distinguished line continued into 2006 with Adrian Sutil, the current Japanese F3 champion. Toyota has also enjoyed a great deal of success in North America, initially with
Dan Gurney’s Eagle organisation. His team won the IMSA GTO sportscar title in 1987, and went on to win the GTP title in 1992-’93 with Juan Fangio II, as well as the Daytona 24 Hours.
Toyota moved into Champ Car racing in 1996, scoring its first win with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000, and taking the title with Cristiano da Matta in 2002. A switch to the IRL in 2003 saw championship success for Scott Dixon and an Indianapolis 500 win for Gil de Ferran.

The Challenge – Taking on the Ultimate Test
In January 1999 then Toyota president Hiroshi Okuda announced the company’s intention to enter Grand Prix racing. Toyota took the bold step of making the move in its own right, rather than in co-operation with an existing organisation. Toyota thus became the only team other than Ferrari to design and produce
both the chassis and engine under one roof. The Le Mans project had demonstrated that the Cologne base and personnel would provide an excellent starting point for an F1 programme, under the
supervision of Ove Andersson. However, there was a great deal of work to do as Panasonic Toyota Racing took shape. Both the facility and the size of the staff had to be expanded over a short timeframe, while at the same time work progressed on the design and construction of a prototype. Progress was made more challenging by a rule change that forced the team to abandon its original plan to run a V12 engine, and instead follow the more usual V10 route.
In 2001 Mika Salo arrived at the fledgling team, and he and original test driver Allan McNish developed the F1 prototype, the TF101, in preparation for the planned race debut the following year. The 2002 Australian GP was a milestone in the history of the company as Salo earned a sixth place and a priceless point
in Toyota’s very first Grand Prix start with the TF102.
Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta joined the team in 2003, and at Silverstone that year the Brazilian put a Toyota in the lead of a Grand Prix for the first time. In the course of the season both men qualified as high as third, Panis achieving the feat at Indianapolis, and da Matta in Japan.
The 2004 season saw the team continue its learning curve, and the July introduction of an up-rated TF104B reflected the pace of development. Jarno Trulli came into the team for the last two races of 2004, and was joined by Ralf Schumacher from the start of 2005.
With two experienced, Grand Prix-winning drivers on board the team continued to make good progress. Jarno scored the first podium when he finished second in the second race of 2005 in Malaysia, repeating that result next time out in Bahrain. He was also third in Spain, while Ralf added another third in Hungary and took a popular pole position for Toyota on home ground in Japan. Panasonic Toyota Racing finished the season in an encouraging fourth place in the constructors’ table.
The team hoped to build on that performance in 2006, but it proved to be a challenging year. Among the main challenges the team faced was adapting toThe Challenge – Taking on the Ultimate Test In January 1999 then Toyota president Hiroshi Okuda announced the company’s intention to enter Grand Prix racing. Toyota took the bold step of making the move in its own right, rather than in co-operation with an existing organisation.
Toyota thus became the only team other than Ferrari to design and produce both the chassis and engine under one roof.

The Le Mans project had demonstrated that the Cologne base and personnel would provide an excellent starting point for an F1 programme, under the supervision of Ove Andersson. However, there was a great deal of work to do as Panasonic Toyota Racing took shape. Both the facility and the size of the staff had to be expanded over a short timeframe, while at the same time work progressed on the design and construction of a prototype. Progress was made more challenging by a rule change that forced the team to abandon its original plan to run a V12 engine, and instead follow the more usual V10 route.
In 2001 Mika Salo arrived at the fledgling team, and he and original test driver Allan McNish developed the F1 prototype, the TF101, in preparation for the planned race debut the following year. The 2002 Australian GP was a milestone in the history of the company as Salo earned a sixth place and a priceless point
in Toyota’s very first Grand Prix start with the TF102. Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta joined the team in 2003, and at Silverstone that year the Brazilian put a Toyota in the lead of a Grand Prix for the first time.
In the course of the season both men qualified as high as third, Panis achieving the feat at Indianapolis, and da Matta in Japan.
The 2004 season saw the team continue its learning curve, and the July introduction of an up-rated TF104B reflected the pace of development. Jarno Trulli came into the team for the last two races of 2004, and was joined by Ralf Schumacher from the start of 2005.
With two experienced, Grand Prix-winning drivers on board the team continued to make good progress. Jarno scored the first podium when he finished second in the second race of 2005 in Malaysia, repeating that result next time out in Bahrain. He was also third in Spain, while Ralf added another third in
Hungary and took a popular pole position for Toyota on home ground in Japan. Panasonic Toyota Racing finished the season in an encouraging fourth place in the constructors’ table.
The team hoped to build on that performance in 2006, but it proved to be a challenging year. Among the main challenges the team faced was adapting tothe switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres, which coincided with the rules allowing tyre changes during races once again. The other major new challenge was the move from V10 to V8 power. The team took a forward-thinking approach to the season. Instead of running an interim car at the end of 2005, it rolled out the TF106 as early as November. The main aim was to gain as much experience as possible with the new engine and tyres. The schedule also called for the introduction of a revised TF106B at the Monaco GP. This would incorporate any lessons learned with the first car, and also allow the team to utilise new rear suspension. The plan worked well in that the B-spec car proved to be a step forward in terms of performance, but readying the revised car while still racing the TF106 was a major task.
“I suppose in terms of results we have to say that we didn’t deliver,” says John Howett. “I think if you actually look at the competitiveness of the car, my general feeling is that we were more competitive last year than we were in 2005. But as in all sports, in the end the only thing that counts is results. The issue to some extent was reliability, and that’s an issue we are really focusing on very strongly. “One of the reasons to get the TF106 out early was to try to resolve reliability issues with the V8. I guess we were reasonably good at the beginning of the season, but we didn’t eradicate everything. Secondly, I think introducing another brand new car in Monaco meant that we were racing and testing and fixing crucial reliability issues at the same time. “This year we’ve reverted to a strategy where we launch the car in January, resolve all the problems in the remaining part of the winter testing, and not put ourselves under so much pressure during the season when we are pushing for performance. In other words we’ve gone back to a more conventional strategy.”


 

Article Index

page 1 - Toyota, season and overall statistics
page 2 - Toyota, Racing in Formula 1
page 3 - Toyota, Behind the Scenes – Back at Base
page 4 - Toyota, Behind the Scenes - At the Track
page 5 - Toyota, 50 years in motorsport

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2008 22:54
 

2011 Driver table

  1. 0 Sebastian Vettel 
  2. 0 Fernando Alonso
  3. 0 Mark Webber
  4. 0 Lewis Hamilton

Read more...

2011 Constructors table

  1. 0 RBR-Renault
  2. 0 McLaren-Mercedes
  3. 0 Ferrari
  4. 0 Mercedes GP

Read more...

Need to know

  1. Formula 1 lexicon
  2. Without Traction Control
  3. Logistics of Formula
  4. Rain - adapt to win

Read more...