This summer the Toyota Racing Series celebrates its 10th championship season here in New Zealand, and believe it or not, the FT40 chassis has been in service since race one. As you can imagine, a lot changes in the world of motorsport in 10 years, with advancements in every aspect — including aerodynamics, performance and safety. So in the interests of keeping the stepping-stone championship relevant on the world stage, Toyota NZ decided it was time to upgrade.
The FT50 began development around 12 months ago in Tatuus’ Italy-based factory. The new carbon-composite tub boasts significant safety improvements over the old, with front and rear crash structures, higher helmet supports at the sides and a removable seat insert to meet current FIA regulations. The aerodynamics have also seen vast improvements thanks to use of the latest CFD (Computational Flow Dynamics) technology. The nose is higher and now features an adjustable dual-element front wing, while the side pods are much higher. The rear wing is also adjustable, and features much larger side plates and elements. The wheelbase is both longer and wider, and gone is the single-shock front-end design, replaced by dual Oram bump- and rebound-adjustable shocks and an adjustable anti-sway bar. The braking package includes monoblock Brembo calipers and two-piece floating rotors.
The highly developed and reliable 2ZZ-GE 1800cc remains from the old chassis, although MoTeC’s latest, the M150 ECU, has been employed with increased sensor inputs. To back the 1800cc there’s a state-of-the-art Sadev SLR82 six-speed sequential transaxle equipped with the latest Magneti Marelli paddle shifter.
The car has seen shakedown laps first in Italy with two-time TRS champion Nick Cassidy, and back here in New Zealand with two-time champion Daniel Gaunt. “The brakes pull you up better and there’s a lot more aero grip. It does everything you want it to do and more,” Gaunt says. “The Italians are very passionate about their race cars, and that shows through in their design for this car. The wings, the flowing lines, the side pods, the floor. Everything about [the styling of the car] is actually very Italian.”
With the five-round championship kicking off at Ruapuna on January 17, it is likely we will see a season of lap records being reset as teams and drivers learn the new much-improved TRS car. The question now is how many seconds can be shaved off those records?