So, you’ve got your self a kitted out Toyota Corolla. Nice. But I doubt you’d still be turning heads or getting some panties wet. Save for the wayward sporty Truenos, Supras, and MR2’s, Toyotas have long had a reputation for being cheap, economical and reliable (barring the recent recalls) family oriented vehicles. Being that they are, and a long standing history in Motor sport albeit not as stellar as Honda or Mazda, they have also been subject to some rather impressive street modifications. Well, this isn’t one of them.
With Toyota renewing their challenge in Japan Super GT Championships, they’ve brought an otherwise surprising choice of platform to compete with. A rather intimidating iteration of the latest model Toyota Corolla Altis that you won’t see prowling the streets.
While it may resemble your dad’s souped up ’09 Corolla, it only goes skin deep. Designed to compete in the GT300 class, this machine has rear wheel drive and takes its power from a 300HP turbo intercooled 3.5l V6 that red lines at 6800RPM mated to a 6 speed sequential manual gearbox. Even more impressive so is that it only tips the scales at 1100kg. It also sits lower and wider than your commercial model Corolla to house the fat 18 inch racing wheels that bespoke its already impressive stance.
Though it boasts specs you’d likely expect to tear the track from underneath you, it won’t be competing against the likes of the Supras, Godzilla R34/35’s and NSX’s. Its fast, but it won’t exactly hold a candle against them GT500 class cars. Do expect to see it compete against the likes of Subaru Impreza/Legacy GT’s, 350Z’s, and an F360 or F430 and maybe a few Porsches. It’ll be interesting to see a make and model renowned for making school runs taking the fight to established sporting marques over at places like Suzuka and Fuji Speedway.
Even more interesting so, is Car no. 31’s team livery. Having an animation studio as one of their major sponsors, it only made sense that the car would have an ita-sha inspired livery. As if the marking on the hood and the distinct yellow eyes weren’t a dead giveaway to discerning fans. The car is clad in Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Eva Unit 01 purple and orange color scheme as it appeared in the movie recently shown in theaters. Look at that fascia, it just demands respect. The team sponsor’s theme didn’t stop with the car. Driver’s were clad in race suits designed after Shinji’s, Eva 01’s pilot, plug suit. While it isn’t the only Corolla Axio GT in the running, the other team, Car no. 74, sports a more conventional,yet equally eye catching, Orange color scheme and appears to be the factory backed team of the two. Although, it isn’t exactly the first motor sport team to have car that’s taken fancy with the growing Itasha scene in Japan. Japanese toy manufacturer Good Smile Company is a major team sponsor. Originally with Studie Glad which ran a BMW Z4M GT in 2008-09, now running a Porsche 996 GT with Team Cox carrying no less than most renowned Virtual Idol, Miku Hatsune, on it’s doors on both occasions.
One very popular and maybe that which rivals if not complements Super GT teams’ popularity are their Race Queens. Other wise known as umbrella girls or pit girls, depending on what corner of the world you reside, Race queens garner attention the likes of which have never been seen on any other motor sporting event. Why do you think Japanese F1 GP was always so popular? Team Run’A Evangelion, like other teams, have their RQ’s *ahem* prominently display their team’s colors or in this case theme. Taking their queues from the anime’s 2 heroines, Asuka in red, and Rei in white, they could pass more as cosplayers who found their way into the paddock.
This just goes to show how much Anime, much like cars, high tech gadgets and karaoke, influences Japanese lifestyle much more a part of their culture. While these Ita-sha race teams have yet to make their success stories in the the Super GT, they have made their mark and are most likely to stay for the years to come. Paging Mr. Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital, can we expect to see these cars on future versions of Gran Turismo?
Photos taken from Team Run’a Evangelion Racing website