TOYOTA has wrapped three GT86 sports cars in liveries celebrating some of its greatest Le Mans racers, ahead of this years infamous 24-hour event next weekend.
One of the three GT86 Le Mans special pays tribute to the 1992 Toyota TS010, which featured a 3.5-litre V10 engine producing 700bhp.
A second recalls the legendary 1998 TS020, or GT-One, which managed fastest lap and the highest speed through a speed trap of 345kph, in 1998.
The final car features a paintjob of the TS050 Hybrid, which came heartbreakingly close to winning Le Mans in 2016.
Of course, although of the Toyota racing cars that inspired the liveries came close to winning the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours, none of them quite managed to pull it off… something the company will be attempting to correct at this year’s race with a pair of TS050 Hybrids piloted by stars including Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Mike Conway.
It’s Toyota’s best chance yet for outright victory, being the sole factory team left in the top-flight LMP1 category, but with tough performance-balancing handicaps it could still be a very close-run thing. Particularly given the class of the competition in privateer teams; look out for Alonso’s old F1 rival Jenson Button, for example.
And, of course, anything can happen at Le Mans.
The three GT86s are fitted with high-level Toyota accessory rear spoilers, in a nod to the high-downforce aero packages featured on the race cars, while they get lowered springs that reduce the cars’ ride height by 40mm.
Aftermarket alloys were chosen to replicate the designs of the original racing wheels, and a new stainless steel Milltek Sport exhaust system provides a finishing touch and an evocative sound.
They join six other retro-themed GT86 specials, finished in heritage liveries of some of Toyota’s race and rally car legends.
Toyota GB spokesperson James Clark said: “The GT86 gives us a great canvas on which to pay tribute to some of the amazing Toyota race cars that have thrilled the crowds at Le Mans. Response to our earlier retro-liveried coupes was fantastic and we hope these new cars – all strictly one-off creations – will generate the same kind of enthusiasm as we approach this year’s 24-hour race.”
And hats off to Toyota for revealing the Le Mans ’86s today — the eighth day of the six month.
Driving.co.uk will be getting behind the wheel of at least one of the GT86 specials next week as we join the Toyota team for the 2018 race. Follow @ST_Driving on Twitter for updates throughout the race weekend. Our journey begins bright and early on Friday morning, while the race starts at 3pm local time on Saturday, June 16.