The real-life racing success of the Castrol TOM’S Toyota Supra has led to this mighty muscle car becoming an icon of virtual reality competition in the hands of millions of Gran Turismo Sony PlayStation game players.
The All-Japan GT championship was inaugurated in 1994 as a series for grand touring cars – modified but recognisable versions of production models – and quickly gained a huge popular following.
The 1997 JGTC series saw the Supra lining up against competition in the GT500 class that included Porsche GT1 and 2 models, the Honda NSX, Lamborghini Diablo and Nissan Skyline. The car was equipped with the 3SG engine, a development of the 16-valve, 2.0-litre unit used in IMSA competition (the 503 engine) and in the Toyota Corolla World Rally Championship car (3SGTE). GT competition regulations allowed the unit in the Supra to be tuned to more than 480bhp.
The car made an immediate impact on the series, with Krumm setting a new qualifying lap record at Fuji for the second race of the season, leading home five Supras at the top of the grid.
By the time of the final, sixth race, Krumm and de la Rosa had notched up two victories and a second place, but still had to battle to secure overall victory. When the chequered flag fell at the Sugo circuit, they were tied on points with Masahiko Kageyama, but took the title by dint of a superior number of podium finishes.
The JGTC remains Japan’s most popular racing series and in 2006 Toyota achieved further success with Juichi Wakisaka and Andre Lotterrer taking the drivers’ championship in a new car based on the Lexus SC430.