Tokyo — TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC), which regards motor sports as an ideal medium for conveying the anticipation and excitement associated with automobiles, announces it plans to continue engaging in motor sports this year, despite being financially restricted by severe business conditions. TMC plans to focus on these top-class racing series: the FIA Formula One World Championship (F1), Japanese Super GT, Formula Nippon and NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). TMC will also support young drivers expected to some day be competitive on the world stage.
This will mark TMC's eighth year in F1 competition. Its TF109 racecar, in line with new regulations, sports a broader front wing and improved performance and reliability. With veteran driver Jarno Trulli and second-year member Timo Glock, the team is aiming for its first win. The team's third driver, Kamui Kobayashi, will also compete in the just-below-F1 GP2 Series.
In Japan, TMC will participate using the Lexus brand this year and will aim to recapture the Super GT GT500 title using the Lexus SC430. TMC will continue to supply engines to the Japanese Championship Formula Nippon—the top category of formula car racing in Japan, aiming for the fourth straight title by a Toyota-powered car.
In the United States, TMC will again participate in NASCAR's pinnacle Sprint Cup Series with the Toyota Camry, which totaled 10 wins last year. TMC is also aiming to win the Nationwide Series, NASCAR's second most-popular series, also with the Camry. And TMC will continue to race the Toyota Tundra in the Camping World Truck Series (formerly the Craftsman Truck Series), after having won both the manufacturer's and driver's titles last year.
In addition to directly participating in racing, TMC is also committed to continuing its support for a wide range of events and race categories starting from the grassroots level to promote motor sports in general.
One such initiative is the Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP), which aims to help train world-class drivers of the future. This year TMC has selected eight drivers to participate in the program, including Kazuki Nakajima, a second-year driver for the AT&T Williams team expected to play a bigger role this year.
Furthermore, to promote environmentally friendly motor sports and to improve the efficiency of hybrid systems (including those for production vehicles), TMC will continue developing hybrid systems for motor sports.
TMC's motor sports activities are centered at TMC's Motor Sports Division at TMC's Higashifuji Technical Center in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, and are backed by regional bases in Japan (Toyota Technocraft Co., Ltd. (TRD)), Germany (Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG)) and the United States (TRD, U.S.A. Inc. (TRD-USA)).
Outline of TMC's 2009 Motor Sports Activities
TMC will continue to support teams in this premier Japanese racing series through Toyota Technocraft Co., Ltd. (TRD). Vehicles scheduled to participate are the GT500-class Lexus SC430 powered by a 3.4-liter V8 engine (RV8KG), the GT300-class Lexus IS350 powered by a 3.0-liter V8 engine (RV8J) and the Toyota Corolla Axio powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine (2GR).
3. Japanese Championship Formula Nippon
TMC will provide 3.4-liter V8 engines (RV8K) to five teams (eight vehicles) in this top category of Japanese formula car races. All vehicles will have Bridgestone tires.
Supported Teams (Engine Support)
TMC will once again compete in all races of the NASCAR National Series with the support of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) and TRD-USA. Race vehicles in every category will be fitted with Goodyear tires.
Sprint Cup Series
The Sprint Cup Series is the pinnacle of NASCAR. TMC has been racing in the series since 2007 (when it was then called the Nextel Cup Series) with the Camry.
The Nationwide Series is the next most-popular series after the Sprint Cup Series. TMC has been racing the series since 2007 (when it was then called the Busch Series) with the Camry.
Camping World Truck Series
TMC has been racing in the series since 2004 (when it was then called the Craftsman Truck Series) with the Tundra.
5. Other Support Activities
All-Japan F3 Championship Series
Formula Three is the first step toward F1. TMC will provide 1AZ-FE engines to the three teams (five vehicles) participating in the All-Japan class races. TMC will also provide 3S-GE engines to nine cars participating in National class races, which began in 2008.
From this year, all the cars will use Hankook tires. All-Japan class teams using TMC-supplied engines and their drivers are listed below.
Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ)
This entry-class category is in its fourth year. All of the cars are specially and independently designed FCJ vehicles (FC106). This year, the FCJ has scheduled a total of 14 different races at seven race events to be held at four different circuits.
Netz Cup Vitz Street-legal Series
This series features the street-legal Toyota Vitz RS TRD Racing racecar, which is based on the 1.5-liter Vitz RS.
Five regional series (Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Kansai and Western Japan) are scheduled along with a special race.
Support will be provided to the Toyota Motor Sports Club (TMSC).
6. Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP)
This program is aimed at cultivating drivers who hope to compete in top racing categories, both in Japan and throughout the world. It is dedicated to identifying new talent and allows participants to improve in line with their own respective abilities. The program is being offered in Europe and Japan, as listed below.
List of Trainee TDP Drivers for 2009
Formula Toyota Racing School (FTRS)
Under the umbrella of TDP is the FTRS, a three-day, two-night course at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan that uses Formula Toyota racecars and covers everything from the basics to participation in non-sanctioned races. Among participants who are outstanding and promising, a tryout is held to select a driver who will receive a scholarship for the following year.
In 2009, FTRS is scheduled for August 17-19.