A week after the successful Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup race weekend, Toyota Motor Philippines President Mr. Atsuhiro Okamoto welcomed motoring journalists at Clark International Speedway (CIS) for a special track day.
The twice postponed event to experience the GR Supra at CIS, coincided with the launch of the GR Yaris. Without casting a shadow on the Yaris, it was a serendipitous excuse to drive the two cars back to back, on the racetrack!
Tuason Racing, which organized the event, added another perspective: comparison of the GR cars versus the Vios One Make Racecar. Not to pass up on this opportunity, Toyota Gazoo Racing ambassador Mr. Marlon Stockinger suited up and drove a few laps himself.
The pool of media drivers was a wide mix, from seasoned Vios Cup champion to tyro track drivers. Thus, it began with a braking exercise to explore the threshold of the braking system for each car. Coming to a complete stop a number of times from a progressively faster speed without locking the brakes, gave drivers an idea where that limit is.
Next was an evaluation of handling dynamics through a slalom course. As we explored the cars’ maximum performance, I quickly found the boundaries of my skills. A couple of laps following the Vios OMR at full speed made it obvious how much faster and easier to drive swiftly the GR cars were.
No overtaking was allowed, which was a shame. That does not mean that the Vios OMR was slow, just that the GR Yaris had way more grip, handled well even with a ham-fisted driver like myself behind the wheel.
The GR Supra, with 335 horsepower delivered to the rear wheels, was a handful. There was little room for making mistakes. Jabbing the throttle pedal will get you sideways, quick. The GR Yaris on the other hand, steers deftly with the use of the throttle. Boost comes early in the rev range and spurs you on from the starting line as violently as the normally aspirated GR Supra, while not squatting as much.
The Supra’s linear power delivery rewards more finessed acceleration and steering inputs, as I found out in the slalom course. Which became more obvious during the laps around the circuit. The GR Yaris’s quick to spool turbo, mechanical grip from four driven wheels, and wide track, makes it seem faster through the slalom course. When I checked the marshal’s timing sheet, my timed runs were separated by almost a full second between each of the three cars. I was fastest on the Yaris, then the Supra, while on the Vios OMR I was two seconds slower against the Yaris.
In hindsight, I felt overwhelmed driving all three cars in quick succession through a rigorous series of exercises. I thought I could improve on a number of things, and at the end of the day learned a trick or two. Consistency with brake applications would have helped me find the cars’ braking threshold easier.
Stomping on the brake pedal, I tripped the ABS a number of times. In the slalom course, I got an invaluable tip from the lead instructor Ferdie Ong. Before entering a long zigzag course, it’s important for establishing a rhythm to maintain a fixed speed. It’s not that easy to sustain a fast rhythm with seven cones that are close to each other.
A rookie autocrosser during the last Vios Racing Festival, I earned a whole season worth of car control proficiency with the manual transmission Vios OMR. Executing the same maneuvers on cars with more power and torque, I still managed to overdrive, even with all the electronic driving aids turned on.
On the circuit, despite being limited by the speed of the leading Vios OMR, I realized I needed extra seat time to match the GR cars’ performance. With my limited racing background, I spent equal time familiarizing with the racetrack and getting acquainted with the cars.
TMP took a gamble putting the Supra on sale a couple of years ago. For fans, it was a needed spark for the enthusiasm that has dimmed since the launch of the Toyota 86. Now, with the introduction of the homologated GR Yaris with a limited manufacturing run, I’m sure dealerships’ phones will be ringing off the hook.