Originally Posted on SJB Supercars - http://www.sjbsupercars.com/single-post/2016/1/18/Toyota-Reveal-its-new-Prius-GT300-Racer
January 18, 2016 | Sean Smith
The Toyota Prius may not be what you expect to see on this site, unless it’s a 300bhp, fire spitting, racing car with a detuned engine from the Le Mans team. Sean Smith shows off the TS040s baby brother.
I am not a fan of the road going Toyota Prius, but when Toyota’s tuning and race development team TRD reveal a car which may bare the name but looks as edgy and aggressive as this and has replaced the engine with that from the outgoing Toyota TS040 Le Mans challenger, my interest rather picks up.
The Toyota Prius GT300 will be TRD’s entry to the 2016 GT300 series, the 2nd tier of Japan’s top GT racing series, along with the company’s GT-86 sports car and around 25 other regular cars from an array of manufacturers.
Instantly obvious from the images is that the Prius GT300 has a radically different body design from even the newest Prius road car. The car has huge flared wheel arches which will be hiding a wider track width and narrowed, more aerodynamically efficient cockpit. The car shares no panels from the road car; eminently clear at the back with the huge rear wing and exhausts. There are turning veins and winglets all over the bodywork, a big diffuser and splitter run underneath and special race spec wing mirrors and windscreen wiper. As a Toyota Celica driver I notice its similar silhouette to the Celica GT300 from 2003.
Visible even from the exterior shots, the cabin has been stripped clean of the Prius’ 5 seater layout and replaced with a singular Recaro seat with full race harness. The interior has a race steering wheel and information screen borrowed from the GT-86 racer while the centre console and dashboard has been replaced from the bland road car’s unit for one which will be used for settings adjustment for the drivers in the race, so no Radio 5Live.
Not that a radio would be audible anyway, the car is using a 3.5litre, front mounted V8, a detuned version of the engine Toyota used from 2012 to 2015 for the TS030 and TS040 Le Mans cars. If anything like the sound they made is heard from the Prius the hybrid aspect will be forgotten in an instant. Speaking of the electric power, Toyota say the car features a system which does actually derive from the road car although the power it gives the race car is currently unavailable. What is likely is the electric boost will occur in a similar fashion to the Le Mans racer in launching the car out of corners then using the engine to force it down the straight.
This is not the first Toyota Prius race car in the GT300, last year the APR team ran a previous generation car to 3rd in the standings taking two victories. But this new car certainly looks more convincing and with more help from TRD it’s entirely believable that the Prius could be in with a shout of winning the series.
What do you think of the 2016 Prius GT300, would you like the road car to be more like its racing cousin than the drab statement item it currently is? Get in touch with us via Facebook by searching SJB Supercars and Twitter @SJBSupercars.
(Images courtesy of autoevolution.com, allracingcars.com and www.toyotahybridracing.com/silverstone-debut-for-toyota-ts040-hybrid/)