The list of Official Automotive Partners in IMSA grew to an impressive 18 today with confirmation that Toyota will compete in the 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season. Selected customers will race the Toyota GR Supra GT4 across the 10-event schedule in the first of a multiyear partnership between the manufacturer and IMSA.
The announcement marks the return of the Toyota brand to IMSA competition. Toyota totaled 53 race victories in the past – 51 coming in IMSA GT competition and two in the American Le Mans Series, including the overall triumph at the 2013 Motul Petit Le Mans.
“While this new program marks Toyota’s first foray into the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Toyota’s IMSA history is stellar,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “The GR Supra GT4 program begins a new chapter, but if history is our guide, all the ingredients are in place for tremendous success. We’re delighted to welcome Toyota back to IMSA competition and into one of the most competitive classes of sports car racing anywhere in the world.”
The GR Supra GT4 to be used in Pilot Challenge competition is based on the GR Supra, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first global model from the Toyota Gazoo Racing Customer Racing Program. Developed and produced by Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe GmbH (TGR-E), the GR Supra GT4 has an in-line six-cylinder, 430-horsepower engine that includes a seven-speed sports automatic transmission with paddle shift. It has a high-strength roll cage on a lightweight steel body. The interior features a carbon fiber instrumental panel with a display and steering wheel specifically designed for GT4 competition globally.
Toyota Racing Development (TRD) U.S.A., Inc., will support Supra GT4 customers at all Pilot Challenge races with a systems engineer and spares truck. TRD announced in September the sale of the first customer GR Supra GT4 to Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR)-Latin America. Riley Motorsports, a mainstay in both the Pilot Challenge and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, will field the car in 2021 Pilot Challenge competition.
“We are thrilled to partner together with IMSA, racing in the Michelin Pilot Series with the GR Supra GT4,” said Tyler Gibbs, general manager, TRD U.S.A., Inc. “Toyota has a storied history in the series, and we look forward to a successful return to American sports car competition as the GR Supra GT4 hits the track at Daytona next month.”Bill Riley, team principal of Riley Motorsports – the family-owned operation that has designed and built 13 winning cars at the Rolex 24 At Daytona – is thrilled over the new alignment with Toyota.
“We are really excited to be part of the new GR Supra GT4 racing program in IMSA next season,” Riley said. “It looks competitive right out of the box, and I know it won’t disappoint.”
Most Pilot Challenge races are two hours in length, but the 2021 season opens with the BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona, a four-hour event on Friday, Jan. 29 at Daytona International Speedway. Teams will have the opportunity to test at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 from Jan. 22-24.