SNAPSHOT! Toyota Supra GT4 makes 24H SERIES debut

News | May 18, 2023

Our favourite images from the first 24H SERIES outing for Toyota Gazoo Racing’s track weapon: the Supra GT4 Evo.


Photos – Nico Mombaerts

Toyota’s relatively new Supra GT4 Evo made its 24H SERIES debut at the 2023 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS. You have to go back SIX years to the 2017 Hankook 12H IMOLA for the last time ‘Toyota Gazoo Racing’ – then branded as ‘TMG’ (the Toyota Motor Group) – was on  CREVENTIC grid, represented on that occasion by Endurance Team Romania’s Toyota GT86 CS-V3.

Spa 2023 was not, however, the first time Toyota has contested a 24H SERIES event since 2017. PB Racing for example has run its Lotus Exige V6 Cup R semi-regularly since the Hankook 24H DUBAI in 2020, at the heart of which is a Toyota-derived 3.5-litre supercharged V6. Fittingly, the Italian team was also on the grid at both Spa and CREVENTIC’s European season opener in Mugello.

Belgium’s Xwift Racing Events meanwhile was back for its first 24H SERIES start since the 2022 Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING. Even with a new car, expectations were high, as the Belgian team’s Ligier JS2 R took TCX class victory last year in Germany.

Free Practice went smoothly. Although the Supra was unable to keep pace with the GT4 frontrunners (the Toyota’s fastest lap during the session was nine seconds slower than the TCL Motorsport by AR Performance BMW M4), the fifth fastest lap in-class was a solid start to the weekend.

Team owner Pieter Denys gave Xwift Racing Events plenty to celebrate in Q1. In the changeable conditions, the #408 Toyota Supra went quickest of all the GT4 runners – by a whopping five seconds! – to, briefly, hold provisional class pole position…

… although intermittent rain meant the Toyota eventually slipped back to 4th in-class on the grid. Ominous black clouds in the distance hint at the heavy downpours heading towards the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

A malfunctioning wire connected to the front windshield heater caused smoke to build-up in the cockpit during Gavin Pickering’s first stint. This was the only ‘major’ incident for the team (minus a left front puncture on Sunday), and cost Xwift Racing less than 10 minutes in the pits. But this still dropped the #408 Supra behind the TCE frontrunners during the opening hour.

Heavy rain led to frantic work on pitroad during the early stages, but Denys, Pickering, Tim de Borle and Steven Dewulf managed to avoid any off-track moments to work their way up to 5th in-class by the end of ‘part one.’ Aided, it must be said, by the neutral balance of the Toyota Supra itself.

Although Tim de Borle (who took the TCX class win at Hockenheim alongside Denys and Dewulf) ran none of the 15-minute qualifying sessions nor during the opening six hours at all, the young Belgian did take the lion’s share of the stints on Sunday, completing 165 laps and taking the #408 Supra GT4 Evo to the chequered flag

Teammate Gavin Pickering ran him close on Sunday (2m 38.147s), but team owner Denys ended up posted the Supra’s fastest race lap at Spa (2m 37.418s). An impressive performance nonetheless from Pickering, who made his first start in the GT4 class and aboard a Toyota at the 2023 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS.

An alternator issue for GT4 podium contender Atlas BX Motorsports ended up promoting Xwift Racing Events to 4th in-class at the 2023 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS. A noteworthy result for the Toyota Supra GT4 Evo, which the team said post-race “ran like a Swiss watch” on its 24H SERIES debut.

You can also check out this SNAPSHOT! in our 2023 Hankook 12H MONZA magazine, available for digital download HERE


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