Toyota GT-One

The Toyota GT -One TS020 was a racing car in the GT1 category or LM -GTP ( Grand Touring Prototype Le Mans ) and drove at 1998 and 1999 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was designed and built by order of the Japanese company Toyota by Toyota Team Europe ( TTE) in Cologne. Responsible designer was the former French long-distance racers André de Cortanze. In addition to six built exclusively for racing homologation car was from a street-legal in Japan copy with the alterations and extensions required for it.


The decision to participate in the GT -One Le Mans fell, according to Toyota until 1996. For the development of only 18 months have remained. Result was around 920 kg lighter prototype with the mentioned R36V 8- cylinder V- engine with 3.6 liter displacement and two Garrett turbochargers, which was built as a mid-engine ahead of the rear axle and according to official figures made ​​up to 630 hp and 650 developed nm of torque; at 6000 min-1, respectively. The force was transmitted to the rear wheels via a Toyota -developed, non-synchromesh and sequential 6- speed gearbox. The monocoque was designed as a sandwich panel with aluminum honeycomb core and CFRP deck skin. The development and design of the aerodynamic components was performed as a commissioned work by the Italian race car manufacturer Dallara. The GT -One ushered in a new era for GT sports car at Le Mans. In the last years before there were either open sports prototype ( here Toyota initiated in 1992 and 1993 with the type TS010 Group C ) or closed GT cars ( Toyota Supra was it last used ) permitted, but at least 25 of which street-legal copies had to exist. For the closed Toyota GT -One of the International Automobile Federation FIA changed the required number on a copy.

The debut

In its first year, three GT -One started after only a short test phase on 6 and 7 June 1998 at the long distance race at Le Mans or in the GT1 class. Due reminiscent of old to the group C, uncompromising design, taking full advantage of the possibilities of the regulations, the Toyota were considered favorites for the class and overall victory, but fulfilled the expectations placed upon them only in part. The Japanese driver Ukyo Katayama Trio, Toshio Suzuki and Keiichi Tsuchiya reached as the best Toyota team on the 9th place overall and 7 in the GT1 class. The other two cars retired from a promising position; the team Thierry Boutsen, Ralf Kelleners, Geoff Lees even had chances to win, but had to after a gearbox failure an hour before the race in the lead ad lying. Brundle drove after all the second-fastest qualifying round ( average: 226.172 km / h ) and before the failure, the fastest race lap. The third car with Martin Brundle, Emmanuel Collard and Éric Hélary had after 14 hours of an accident and could not finish the race well.

The second year of use

Before the next Le Mans race three GT -One were re- built, around 15 kg lighter and obviously with a little more engine power. Extensive testing on various tracks should reduce the risk of default. For the first time launched the Toyota in the newly created GT -LMP class for closed prototypes. Despite strong competition, the GT -One proven on 12 and 13 June 1999 laying down maximum speeds of up to 380 km / h the fastest cars in the field. Martin Brundle drove an average speed of 233.306 km / h the best qualifying time and was able to go into the race with his teammates Emmanuel Collard and Vincenzo Sospiri from the pole position. Besides started with the second fastest qualifying round Ralf Kelleners, Allan McNish and Thierry Boutsen. While this started in the previous year Japanese driver trio Toshio Suzuki, Keiichi Tsuchiya and Ukyo Katayma managed grid position 8, but again, was the most successful Toyota team. With a lap down behind one in the LMP class started ( for open Le Mans prototypes) BMW V12 LMR their GT -One drove to second place overall Shortly before, was still the victory is at hand. A blowouts in the last hour and a thus necessary additional pit stop thwarted this, however. After all meant 2nd place at the same time the GT -LMP - class win, especially here did not come all the other competitors to the finish. The two other Toyota had no luck: The Brundle GT -One was after 90 laps on the Mulsanne straight also a puncture. Martin Brundle still tried to drive the car to the pits, but the car had to retire permanently to the Mulsanne section. Thierry Boutsen was the third car in the 173 round exit of Tertre Rouge corner in a serious accident and had to be rescued with a fractured vertebrae from the car.

The end

After a new classification for the race at Le Mans without the GT -LMP class of the closed prototype was announced for the year 2000, the short and winless era of GT -One was almost at an end. In November 1999, one of the car still in the 1,000 kilometer race went on the Japanese Fuji Speedway with the fastest lap of the race in second place. After that, the GT -One prototype was only in museums, exhibitions and seen at promotional events. It was thus the last international sportscar project by Toyota before switching to Formula 1 in 2002.