Just 3 days before the all-new Toyota Supra will have its global debut in Detroit, the carmaker has announced that it will compete with a racing version in next year’s Super GT championship in Japan. Confirmation of the GT500 class racing program, based on the GR Supra Racing Concept (latest version pictured above) underscores the vital role of motorsport in the development of Toyota’s high-performance vehicles.

The GT-spec Supra, which debuts at the Tokyo Auto Salon today, highlights that Toyota is developing the production Supra to be a true driver’s car. It also underscores Toyota’s focus on using motorsport to help accelerate development of production models.

‘GR’ in the concept name comes from Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella organisation for Toyota’s global sporting program and producer of performance-focused GR-branded cars. Technologies and know-how acquired through activities such as the Super GT championship are fed back into Toyota’s new production vehicles.

The Supra, one of Toyota’s most famous sportscars, has become a byword for power, performance and handling. Over many years, this thoroughbred sportscar built a reputation as a formidable performer on road and track, dominating the Japanese GT racing series and earning legions of fans, and capturing the championship title on 4 occasions.

The latest concept’s purposeful circuit-racing design cues make extensive use of state-of-the-art composite materials to ensure both rigidity and lightness. Along with its ideal front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, the concept car’s dramatic bodywork features wide front and rear bumpers, front splitter and rear diffuser, side skirts and a large rear wing.

The cabin is entirely competition-focused and is fitted with a racing dashboard and OMP driver’s seat and safety harness. OMP has also supplied the quick-release steering wheel, mounted on a racing column and equipped with a paddle-shift system.

“Revealing a racing concept ahead of a production model highlights that motorsport is Toyota’s proving ground of choice for high-performance vehicles. The GR Supra Racing Concept makes it clear Toyota is developing the Supra to be a true driver’s car,” noted a senior Toyota executive.

The last time a Supra was officially run in the Japan Super GT series was the 2006 season.

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