Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa unloads ’21 plans in heart racing style!
Waku Doki is a word Toyota world boss Akio Toyoda loves. It loosely translates into ‘making your heart beat faster’. Waku Doki also happens to be the Toyota Gazoo Racing motto, which ties straight into the world’s biggest carmaker’s global Beyond Zero alternative energy focus, too.
A RED-EYED EFFORT
It was with that in mind that I was up long before any sane human should be as I yawned my way aboard that redeye 737 to Lanseria. But I knew it would be well worth the effort. Man, was it just!
A short ride in an executive jet like Quantum’s fully reclining seat and we were processed into a quick briefing sketching out Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s 2021 plans. Next thing I knew, I was crawling about that jungle gym of a roll cage and squeezing my oversized butt into an undersized suicide seat. A flurry of bother followed to dramatically loosen and then ever so slightly tighten the harness and I was strapped into Toyota’s Gazoo Racing’s Corolla Global Touring Car alongside racing ace Mandla Mdkane.
Before I knew it, the revs soared, the clutch shuddered and we were flying through the jungle, the Corolla’s 450 horse turbo two-litre is barking mad and its straight cut gears whine-bang-whine-bang-whining through the sequential box as young Mandla tossed it in to the first, almost invisible turn on a Gerotek Ride & Handling track I fortunately know well. And then the rest. How the vibrations, the noise and those sensations transfers through the seat into your being, how it turns in, how it accelerates and how the GTC Corolla performs is far more formula racer than saloon car. Man, this is a fine piece of kit that makes a mockery of the fore and aft; left to right dimensions.
MAKING A MOST EFFECTIVE POINT
The drama was considerably heightened by the sadly unkempt nature of the Gerotek facility in general – the track itself is fine but the bush is long and wild right up to the edge of the tarmac. And the apxes. So, this felt a bit more like a military operation than a GTC suicide ride. The objective? To rub it in that Mandla and Michael van Rooyen will be racing a pair of Gazoo Racing Toyota Corolla GTCs in Global Touring Cars this year. Point made. Most effectively too.
A major part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Waku Doki philosophy is to make your heart race faster in your own GR machine and we were allowed to look at and take photos of the first GR Yaris in SA. This tiny AWD supercar is basically a toned-down WRC machine and we just can’t wait to get our grubby paws on one. The incredible GR Yaris is among several other exciting new Gazoo Racing street cars set to join the range alongside the stunning GR Supra and following the successful GR Hilux.
Of course, champion Ogier and his Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris team have made the World Rally Championship their own this year and World Endurance Champions Toyota Gazoo Racing only last weekend opened the new Hypercar WEC era with a debut win for the all-new GR 010 Hybrid. And Gazoo Racing also rolled out its brand-new next generation NASCAR Camry to take Toyota into yet another new racing era in the US this week. It’s all Waku Doki, you know…
GROWLING GAZOO HILUXES AWAIT
We then dodged the snakes and made off to a camp at the old off-road course designed to test tanks and things in the old days. Lo and behold, there we found Giniel de Villiers and Guy Botterill sitting in wait aboard a pair of growling Toyota Gazoo Racing Dakar Hiluxes. Following an equally gargantuan effort to board the thing and squash substantial self into that woefully skinny seat alongside Guy, it was soon apparent that Gerotek has completely neglected this section.
Guy attacked the muddy, rutted, rock-strewn track with absolute aplomb as the machine made a mockery of the third dimension – that up-and-down one – and a situation my chauffeur assured me was considerably harsher than an average SA cross Country route. Mr. Botteril also apologised as to why we did not get a spin in his rally machine. It was simply too treacherous to risk damaging the stage machine. The objective of that mad, bone-jarring experience, by the way, was to confirm that Giniel and Brett Cummings, Henk Lategan and Dennis Murphy and Shameer Variawa will once again race the trio of many multiples of championship winning TGR Hiluxes in the 2021 South African Cross Country series.
A RISING STARLET
Guy, who substituted for Lategan, who was injured at the Dakar in the opening Cross Country race of the season, may continue as super sup pending Henk’s recovery. That following Botterill’s fine second in that opening race. Multiple SA Rally champion Botterill will certainly continue to represent Gazoo Racing on the local stages alongside long-time notes man Simon Vacy-Lyle. Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s rally duo will shortly step up to a new Starlet rally machine too.
We also spent a little time trying out a revolutionary new piece of Toyota Gazoo Racing Driving Academy kit, which we will deal with in a separate story and before we knew it, we were treated to a quick lunch before backtracking home in time to redeem my Cape Town International parking ticket with two minutes to spare before it doubled in price after twelve hours! A mad but wonderful rush to confirm who’s driving what at Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa in the best possible way – in full heart racing anger right alongside them in the suicide seat….
Waku Doki, baby!