Toyota and its performance sub-brand Gazoo Racing (GR) will launch a single-brand racing series for its MX-5 Miata fighter, the GR86. This new US-only series is called the GR Cup, and since Toyota hasn’t released any details on the race cars themselves, we returned to the 2016 SEMA Show, where they showed the GR’s predecessor GT 86 built as a single-seater. make a stock race car for overseas, for hints at what the 2023 Toyota GR86 racer might look like.
The GR Cup
Single-brand racing isn’t a new concept, even here in the States and that’s why we brought up the MX-5 Miata earlier. Nationally and regionally, Spec Miata and the MX-5 Cup is the emblem of single-brand racing it’s easier on the wallet. Well, easier is a relative term here, as MX-5 Global cars start at around $60,000 and can reach just over $80,000 when fully optioned. Yes, even OEM race cars have options and before we talk about the cheapness of your NA Spec Miata, we are talking about the “Global” car that races in the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup, not your local SCCA or Spec Series NASA’s Miata. What we’re basically saying is don’t be surprised if the GR Cup GR86 comes in around the same price range.
The good news is that since the transmission, engine and weight of these cars are generally regulated at such parity that it really is a race of pilots. The cars will be homologated by Toyota and built to precise specifications. Options usually boil down to spares and other trackside necessities, maybe a driver cooling system, but nothing like adding a turbo, better tires or parts light bodywork that others could not immediately afford.
Why do a One Make series?
While Toyota claims in its press release that these races will apply “learnings from the track to make vehicles that are ever better for the road”, the reality is that this is a promotional series. It’s a giant advertisement for the GR86 as a race car built from a street sports car. Same idea for the MX-5 Cup. Also, trust us, we’re not saying that’s a bad thing. If you’re using motorsport to advertise your sports cars, there’s nothing wrong with that and we approve.
We don’t totally rule out that there won’t be things learned from racing the GR86 in a one-make series. You put the same car in the wringer with lots of different drivers who have varying driving styles and tastes. These Toyota and Gazoo engineers are going to learn something, even if it’s a trivial thing.
The GR Cup car
Again, the details Toyota leaked on the GR Cup GR86 were non-existent. Luckily, this isn’t the first time someone has thought of creating a one-make series using the ZN chassis. In 2016, Toyota Motorsport GmbH, which would become Gazoo Racing, imported a CS Cup car to the United States for that year’s SEMA Show. Compared to other modified GT86s that were at the show, this one was tame by SEMA standards. It would have been better suited to the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show in Indy than the outrageous, over-the-top show in Las Vegas.
The aerodynamics weren’t top notch but were just tweaked slightly from the original GT86 shape. Even the rear diffuser was essentially the same except for a vent in the middle for added cooling and redesigned for the new exhaust it used. It featured a wing, but being functional it couldn’t be classed as part of the show like the wilder ZNs in the show.
The standard wheels were replaced with a set of 17×8 OZ Racing wheels fitted with a set of 9.6-inch-wide Pirelli racing tires. The stock front brakes were replaced with a set of two-piece Alcon rotors with an Alcon four-piston caliper. The rears, however, remained the stock single-piston calipers with a one-piece rotor. The suspension was tightened with Bilstein motorsport shocks and Eibach springs. Eibach also handled the anti-roll bars while a Theibaut Racing adjustable strut tower bar kept the front end square under load.
Inside, it was all business with its multi-point FIA roll cage, racing seat and Takata harness. While the dash and gauges were OEM, a racing display replaced the factory radio. Interestingly, the HVAC controls remained, but the air conditioning system could have been removed entirely.
Under the hood, there was no fire-breathing, turbocharged unobtainium engine. However, to say it was the same 2.0-litre engine that powered the GT86 back then would be an overstatement. The biggest change was the airbox and intake tube routing. Instead of curving to the left side of the car and drawing its air from the fender area, it was a forehand from the front nose. The airbox was located just behind the front radiator support and drew air from the opening in the bumper. Even with its motorsport ECU, it produced about 212 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, 7 hp and 11 lb-ft better than stock. The ECU has been programmed for flat shifting and rev matching, thanks to the retention of the stock electronic throttle body. Luckily, those 212 hp only had to carry about 2,100 pounds plus driver weight. Expect similar mods for the new GR86’s larger and more powerful 2.4-liter flat-four.
Will it be the same specifications for the GR Cup Car?
Just to reiterate, we don’t know and are only speculating based on what Toyota has shown us before. While every part probably won’t match what the 2016 CS Cup car used, we wouldn’t be surprised if the GR Cup car didn’t come very close. One thing the teaser image showed was the GR86 GR Cup car wearing Continental tires around a different set of wheels rather than a set of Pirelli tires and OZ Racing wheels from the CS Cup spec car. The car’s cost, official specs and race schedule will likely be released closer to 2023. We’re really looking forward to seeing that and hopefully we’ll see more manufacturers step up their own branding. series with their own sports or sports cars in the near future.