TOYOTA GAZOO RACING EUROPE HERITAGE
Since 1979, the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe site in Cologne has been the home to various top-level motorsport programmes as well as a variety of high-performance engineering.
TGR-E began life as Andersson Motorsport GmbH, named after founder Ove Andersson, and this heritage lives on in the “K-AM” licence plates of all TGR-E company cars. Competing as Toyota Team Europe (TTE) in the World Rally Championship, the company found fame by dominating the Safari Rally, which it won on four out of five years from 1984 to 1988.
At the same time, TTE was spreading its competitive wings across the world and helped Mohammed Bin Sulayem to four consecutive Middle East Rally Championships. World Championship success followed soon, in 1990, when Carlos Sainz won the drivers’ title at the wheel of a Toyota Celica GT-Four, prepared and run by TTE. He added another World Championship two years later.
In 1993, TTE won its first manufacturers’ title, with Juha Kankunnen adding the drivers’ crown for an historic double success which was repeated a year later.
That year also saw the renaming of the company, which became TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) after Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) took sole ownership. A year later, TMG began to diversify with the launch of a tuning subsidiary, called TTE in honour of the rally successes achieved under that banner
Rally success continued for the company and the team earned both World Championships in 1994, with Didier Auriol taking the drivers’ title and TMG the manufacturers’. In 1996, TTE’s first tuning products were rolled out across Europe while on the stages, TMG won the European Rally Championship with Armin Schwarz.
Having diversified from rally into tuning parts, TMG further spread its wings in 1998 when it entered the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race with the TS020.
In its first Le Mans 24 Hours, the TS020 set the fastest lap and recorded the highest top speed. Those achievements were repeated 12 months later, when the TS020 also started on pole position, but bad luck left TMG with just second place.
That same year TMG concluded its participation in World Rally, fittingly ending on a high note by winning the manufacturers’ championship. During its World Rally career, the company won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championships.
The year 1999 also marked a new era for TMG when it was announced Toyota would enter the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with a team based in Cologne.
As those preparations gathered pace, TMG’s tuning arm was busy with its first sports conversion project, the Lexus IS Compressor.
Toyota’s Formula 1 debut saw Mika Salo score an unexpected point for sixth place in the Australian Grand Prix. As the only new constructor to enter Formula 1 between 1998 and 2009 - and one of only two teams to build the entire car, including engine, under one roof – TMG’s experience and performance developed continuously.
In 2005, TMG’s first pole and podium positions were achieved while on the tuning side, the Corolla TS Compressor sports conversion was launched in cooperation with TMC. Further podium and pole positions followed in the coming years, culminating in an all-Toyota front row in Bahrain 2009, but at the end of that season, TMC announced its immediate withdrawal from Formula 1.
Thus TMG’s final Formula 1 record stands at 13 podiums, three pole positions, three fastest laps and 278.5 points.
Drawing inspiration from its motorsport projects, in November 2009 TMG began a new chapter as a high-performance centre for design, development and production. Several high-profile clients, including Formula 1 teams, became regulars in Cologne, using facilities such as wind tunnels, test rigs and manufacturing.
Opening a new chapter in its motorsport history, in 2012 TMG returned to global motorsport when Toyota entered a hybrid-powered prototype in the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes Le Mans. Toyota was immediately a strong contender and, following three wins in its debut 2012 season, won the 2014 drivers’ and manufacturers’ World Championships.
By that time, TMG’s motorsport activities had expanded to cover customer motorsport projects in race and rally, whilst also supplying the engine to Toyota’s new WRC team. But Le Mans remained a major priority and, after several near misses, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, as the team was now known, won in 2018 with Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso.
The 2018-2019 WEC season entered the Toyota history books as the team won seven of eight races, including Le Mans twice, winning the teams’ and drivers’ World Championships. A remarkable period for TMG saw it play a part in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT’s World Championship win in rally as well, while the GR Supra GT4 car expanded the customer motorsport activities in Cologne.
Operating as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe since April 2020, the company is now an integral member of the GAZOO Racing Company and combines World Championship-winning projects with customer motorsport programmes and R&D work for TOYOTA family companies, as well engineering and production services to third-party companies.