Toyota expands its S2000 wings
- 17th October 2006, 10:46am
History was made in South Africa in August this year when a locally developed rally car was given full international homologation by the world motor sport governing body, the FIA. The Toyota RunX was approved as complying with all the requirements for the recently introduced Super 2000 formula. Up until now the Fiat Punto was the only internationally homologated S2000 car.
The S2000 rally car, based on the RunX platform, was developed by Toyota Motor Sport in South Africa, due to the fact that the parent company is currently not involved in the World Rally Championship, due to its extensive involvement in the Formula One.
The objective of the S2000 category, which will now be able to run against the N4 production cars in the WRC, is to make rallying more affordable. This is necessary as the current crop of high technology WRC cars are extremely costly and the number of full works teams has fallen dramatically. The FIA Rally Commission hopes that the S2000 formula will reverse this trend.
The S2000 formula, which was proposed four years ago, specifies one–make gearboxes and four-wheel drive systems provided by the Sadev company in France. This drive train is mated to a normally aspirated two-litre engine with a number of restrictions, including a limit of 8500 rpm, to make for reliability and low maintenance costs.
Toyota South Africa Motor Sport was the first manufacturer in the world to enter – and win – a rally under the FIA’s new Super 2000 regulations last year. Serge Damseaux and co-driver, Robert Paisley, went on to win the S2000 championship in the 2005 Sasol South African championship.
RED is a long established (1979) rally engineering and development business (hence the name RED) based in the North West of England and has built up a formidable reputation over the years, whilst winning numerous championships along the way.
RED team principal, Neil Gatt said: “I have worked very hard in search of a manufacturer partnership where both parties have a serious desire to work together with compatible aims and expectations from the relationship, in order to deliver real value for all concerned, most importantly for our customers.
“This deal with Toyota SA is very exciting indeed. Super 2000 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Manufacturer involvement and interest in the formula is bigger than the current Group N class could ever achieve,” he added, indicating the current two-player Group N category, where only Subaru and Mitsubishi have eligible cars.
“The Toyota S2000 rally car is significantly more affordable than World Rally Cars, substantially more durable than Production cars and more fun to drive and watch as a spectator. The beauty of the Toyota S2000, compared to other manufacturers, such as Peugeot or Fiat, is that the car has been running for two seasons in South Africa. Toyota SA has done a fantastic job in developing the performance and reliability of the car. It’s now time to make it available to customers worldwide.”
The first Toyota S2000 rally car will arrive in the UK next month. With the South African Championship being gravel, the first task for RED and Toyota S2000 damper-supplier, Gordon Birtwistle of Proflex UK, will be to develop the asphalt version of the car. RED, Toyota SA and Proflex UK will team up with hugely experienced World Rally Championship driver, Alister McRae, to spearhead further development of the highly successful gravel car and to develop the all-important basis for the asphalt S2000.
The International Rally Challenge (IRC) 2007, created for Super 2000 cars, will feature classic asphalt rallies as well as gravel events.
“We see the IRC as a very exciting, new championship, visiting many countries and continents,” Gatt added. “We want to make cars available to as many customers as possible who want to compete in the IRC and other championships, in a car that has proved its performance and reliability over the last two years.”
Super 2000 is now widely eligible for many regional and national championships in 2007, including the PWRC, APRC, MERC and Australia’s national championship.
“RED intends to make available as many cars as demand requires,” Gatt says. “Toyota SA is geared up for a significant increase in shell and main component production. We will run a number of marketing and test days around Rally GB time, where the many qualities of the car will be demonstrated to potential customers.”
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