Good Oil: Looking rally, rally good
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From the “Why Did You Show Us This When We Probably Can’t Have It?” file comes a mad-as-a-box-of-snakes version of a car that Toyota hasn’t even launched yet.
The forthcoming C-HR small SUV — a sort of Nissan Juke competitor ... we think — will be on sale in New Zealand in the coming weeks. It looks like an interesting wee thing and features cut-and-slash styling commonly expected of sibling brand Lexus, but is a bit of a departure for Toyota.
Toyota has doubled down on the head-turning imagery with an extreme body-kitted version made up of accessories from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and another provider of ironing board wings and giant wheels, Modellista.
These styling packs turn the C-HR into something you’d expect to see on a WRC rally stage. Alloy wheels, wide side skirts, bash plates and different front and rear bumper arrangements make up the bulk of the TRD/Modellista changes, although here at The Good Oil they had us at “bolt-on 4x4 mudflaps”.
There’s also something called Control Beam© Motion, which look like extra bracing for the front and rear suspension systems.
The annoying bit is that the accessories appear — at this stage anyway — to be Japanese market-only adornments.
In saying that, the base C-HR will be something completely different for Toyota customers to get their heads around in the first place: perhaps it will be better to drip feed the bash plates and exaggerated wheel arch add-ons.
Toyota triples its Le Mans chances
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Toyota hasn’t lost any sleep over last year’s heartbreaking 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, where the team suffered a frustrating mechanical failure on the last lap while leading the field.
That result? Nah, no worries. ’S fine. Hardly even think about it ... So, memories of this “defeat snatched from jaws of victory” moment has absolutely no connection whatsoever with Toyota Gazoo Racing fielding no fewer than three TS050 hybrid race cars in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. It’s a bit belt-and-braces isn’t it? But after last year, you can hardly blame the team.
Toyota seems desperate to win the famous endurance race. If it did, it would be only the second Japanese manufacturer to have done so, after Mazda’s 787B rotary racer crossed the line first in 1991.
Toyota already has one World Endurance Championship manufacturer’s title under the belt — from 2014 — but of the nine championship rounds, it’s all about Le Mans. The team has two cars competing the full season, but a third car will be added for the historic French race. Just to be on the safe side.
It’s heartening news, with Toyota having officially taken Gazoo Racing in-house, developing a new Supra sports car in conjunction with BMW, and announcing a return to the World Rally Championship with two diminutive, turbo-charged Yaris. The manufacturer definitely has its race face on.
Orange you glad? McLaren poised to revive old team colours
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For the past few seasons, McLaren F1’s team colours have been about as cheery as a rainy afternoon spent in a roadside tearoom sipping grey coffee with no one but Morrissey to talk to.
That all looks set to change with the rumour mill spinning overtime, suggesting McLaren F1 will revert to its historic “papaya orange” livery for the 2017 race season. An online teaser message featuring the colour prominently seems to be the basis of the rumour.
Despite being synonymous with the McLaren name, the orange livery hasn’t been used since 1971 in the wake of team founder Bruce McLaren’s death.
The team had a tumultuous year in 2016, in which it achieved little in the way of encouraging racing on the track and which culminated with the shock exit of long-time chairman Ron Dennis at the season conclusion.
New McLaren executive director Zak Brown last year said he wanted to “hear from fans [about] what they love about McLaren and what they’d like to see McLaren do”. Aside from the obvious answer — win a blimmin’ race or three — it would appear nostalgia for the good old days when the cars were fast and orange, reigns supreme among fans. The new F1 car, to be prefixed MCL rather than MP, will be revealed on February 24.
Fernando Alonso is to return for a third season and will be partnered by Stoffel Vandoorne, replacing sabbatical-enjoying Jenson Button, for 2017. Perhaps less encouraging, the team will continue with Honda as engine supplier.