The EVO Edition Will Debut Just Three Years after the Race Car’s Introduction
By John Oreovicz
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Introduced in 2020, the Toyota Supra GT4 that competes in the Grand Sport (GS) class of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is still rather new in racing car terms.
But Toyota has been aggressive in developing a race-winning package for existing and future customers. Therefore, after just three years in which the Supra earned more than 50 race wins, 100 podium finishes and 11 GT4-based sports car championships in Japan, Europe and America, Toyota Gazoo Racing has developed an EVO upgrade designed to make the performance baked into the Supra GT4 more accessible to all drivers.
“We’re looking to reduce the time delta between driver pairings,” explained Steve Hallam, manager of vehicle support and team development for Toyota Racing Development (TRD). “The Supra is small, with a very short wheelbase, so it’s very responsive to the driver. Professional drivers love it – Aaron Telitz (Lexus driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship), for example. For them, the car is fun to drive and very quick.
“We needed to help the gentleman driver,” Hallam continued. “They will be able to feel the car a bit more and get to grips with the car with more confidence. The car will still be quick because the fundamentals haven’t changed, but we’ve added tools to help the other drivers.”
Based in Cologne, Germany, Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe is Toyota’s competition skunkworks, designing and building cars ranging from the World Rally Championship Yaris to the GR010 Hypercar that won this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and recently clinched the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship. More than 50 Supra GT4 racing cars were produced since 2020.
Chassis modifications to the Supra GT4 EVO include revised dampers, a modified rear anti-roll bar and upgraded brakes, including recalibrated anti-lock braking system (ABS) software.
The body gains front dive planes to improve aerodynamic stability, as well as a modified rear wing that will allow teams to make midrace adjustments if needed.
While the 3.0-liter, turbocharged straight six remains essentially unchanged, the overall cooling of the car – engine, intercooler, gearbox and final drive – has been improved.
“We race in some hot venues around the world, and the needle has been at the wrong end of the gauge,” Hallam said. “We’ve addressed it, and that kind of stress won’t be happening again this year (in 2023).”
The Supra GT4 showed plenty of potential in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition, especially the No. 14 car fielded by Riley Motorsports. Alfredo Najiri co-drove the entry to third-place finishes in 2022 at Sebring International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The car’s basic speed has never been questioned, but customer feedback indicated the Supra needed to be made more “user-friendly” to accommodate the kind of less experienced drivers that often make up the majority of GT4 fields.
“GT4, like any Balance of Performance category, is not about outright performance,” Hallam said. “You don’t spend huge amounts of money trying to improve the performance of your car unless you’re outside the target window.
“So, what you’re doing with an EVO package is respecting the needs of the customer – making it easier for them to drive or exploit the performance that’s already there, for them to enjoy their racing.”
Hallam, whose long motorsport career includes stints in Formula 1 (he served as a race engineer for Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen, among others), NASCAR and Australian Supercars, said TRD was actively involved in the development of the Supra GT4. TRD’s lead track engineer, John Morgan, attended the final test sessions in the run-up to the car’s homologation.
The Riley Motorsports entry was often the only Supra on the Michelin Pilot Challenge grid in 2022, so Toyota is hoping the introduction of the EVO package will increase its presence in the coming season. The opening round is the BMW M Endurance Challenge, a four-hour contest set to run Friday, Jan. 27 at Daytona International Speedway.
(Images courtesy of Toyota)