Toyota began their involvement in the premier class of the Super GT Series at the tail end of their inaugural season in 1994, then went full-time in 1995. Since then, Toyota have won more GT500 class races than any other manufacturer: As of the completion of the 2020 Super GT season, Toyota GT500 teams and vehicles have won 72 championship races, 10 GT500 Drivers’ Championships, and 9 GT500 Teams’ Championships.
This of course includes the years spent racing with the legendary fourth-generation Toyota Supra, and it includes the years where Toyota were represented by their Lexus luxury badge, with cars based on their popular performance models like the SC430, the RC F, and the LC500. In 2020, the Toyota badge returned in earnest with the arrival of the fifth-generation GR Supra to continue their incredible run on top of GT500.
This gallery is a year-by-year history of Toyota’s involvement in GT500, featuring many photographs from the Toyota Gazoo Racing media archives captured from 2000 to 2020.
Additional photographs come courtesy of two of Toyota’s longest-serving factory teams, TOM’s and SARD, as well as the archives of Suzuka Circuit/Mobilityland Corporation, and Fuji Speedway, as well as from veteran photographer “Hiro-kun” – whose work can be found on their
Twitter profile, @kun71094249.
1994 SARD Toyota Supra GT: The first true GT500-spec Toyota Supra made its debut with SARD Racing at Sportsland Sugo, and in just its second race at the season finale at Miné Circuit, the turbocharged 3S-GTE inline-four powered Supra sat on pole position for the first time.
1995 Denso SARD Toyota Supra GT: The late, great American journeyman Jeff Krosnoff hustles the white and red Denso Supra through Suzuka en route to his first of two podiums in the Supra GT – which scored its first victory in the top class of the JGTC thanks to TOM’s Racing and drivers Masanori Sekiya/Michael Krumm.
1996 FET Sports Toyota Supra GT: Future nine-time overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Tom Kristensen, drove FET Racing’s Supra to four top-10 finishes in ’96 – his only full season in the JGTC.
1997 Castrol TOM’s Toyota Supra GT | A modern day sports car icon through success in video games and on the track – the number 36 Castrol TOM’s Supra won at Sendai Hi-Land and Miné, took Toyota’s first GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships (as the manufacturer took a whopping five out of six wins on the year!) with drivers Michael Krumm and “Double Champion” Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel. This photo was taken during the 2010 Toyota Motor Sports Festival at Fuji.
1998 Castrol TOM’s Toyota Supra GT | Toyota failed to win a race in 1998 as Nissan and Honda made huge gains, the ’98 Castrol TOM’s Supra of Sekiya and F1 castaway Norberto Fontana was recently discovered in a warehouse after years of disuse – TOM’s Racing is currently trying to raise funds to restore the car to running condition.
1999 Esso Tiger Toyota Supra GT: Team LeMans became a Toyota GT500 squad in 1999, but their season was rocked by the death of Shingo Tachi in pre-season testing. Hideki Noda and MotoGP legend Wayne Gardner saw out the season, taking an emotional first victory in the summer race at Fuji.
2000 FK/Massimo Cerumo Toyota Supra GT: In just his second season with Toyota Team Cerumo, young Yuji Tachikawa wins his first career pole position at the summer race in Fuji – at the next round in TI Circuit Aida, Tachikawa and Hironori Takeuchi take Toyota’s only win of the 2000 season.
2001 au Cerumo Toyota Supra GT: With a new title sponsor in mobile phone company au/KDDI, Cerumo drivers Takeuchi and Tachikawa emerge as the GT500 Drivers’ Champions in a chaotic final round at Miné, even though they weren’t one of Toyota’s two race-winning entries in 2001!
2002 Esso Ultraflo Toyota Supra GT: Ex-Honda drivers Juichi Wakisaka and Akira Iida took theirs and Team LeMans’ first GT500 Drivers’ Championship in ’02, winning at Sugo and recording five top-4 finishes – they won the title by a single point at Suzuka, where they secured one of the three fastest race laps to take the crucial point in the standings.
2003 WoodOne TOM’s Toyota Supra GT: In 2003, with the new vehicle regulations in place, Toyota replaced the aging 3S-GTE engine with the aluminium-block 3UZ-FE V8, bored out to 5.2 litres to take advantage of a loophole in the engine regs. Toyota wins three races, but miss out on either of the titles in GT500.
2004 Denso SARD Toyota Supra GT: Anticipating a change in the engine regulations, Toyota made a smaller 4.5 litre version of the 3UZ-FE engine that was introduced in ’04 – Toyota took two wins this season, including one for the Denso SARD Supra of Jérémie Dufour and André Couto at Sepang, to end a seven-year winless skid for Team SARD.
2005 ZENT Cerumo Toyota Supra GT | Yuji Tachikawa and Toranosuke Takagi won three times en route to the 2005 GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for Cerumo – coming back from 14 points behind in the finale at Suzuka to win in torrential rain and clinch the championship, in the last year for the fourth-gen Supra as Toyota’s GT500 flagship.
2006 Open Interface TOM’s Lexus SC430: Replacing the Supra for 2006 was the rebadged Toyota Soarer, now known worldwide as the Lexus SC430. TOM’s new lineup of Wakisaka and former Honda driver André Lotterer wins the Lexus SC’s debut race at Suzuka – one of three victories for the new model – and eventually wins the GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for 2006.
2006 Eclipse Advan Toyota Supra GT | Past GT300 champions Tsuchiya Engineering were one of two GT500 teams that ran the fourth-gen Supra for one more season in 2006, finishing 6th in that year’s Fuji 500km.
2007 Houzan TOM’s Lexus SC430 | Reigning GT500 champs Wakisaka and Lotterer (joined by understudy Oliver Jarvis) won a thrilling 2007 Suzuka 1000km thanks to Lotterer’s wet-weather prowess – earlier that season, Wakisaka was involved in the legendary “three-wide pass” at Sugo.
2008 ZENT Cerumo Lexus SC430 | Tachikawa and ex-Nissan driver Richard Lyons win the Fuji 500km to give Toyota their only victory of 2008 as Nissan dominates the premier class.
2009 Petronas TOM’s Lexus SC430: Under the surface, the 2009 Lexus SC GT500 car is totally new, with an all-carbon fibre monocoque and the new 3.4 litre RV8K engine making its debut. TOM’s, now sponsored by Petronas, won the Teams’ Championship in 2008 through sheer consistency – and in 2009, Wakisaka and Lotterer win both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for TOM’s.
2010 Eneos Lexus SC430: Over two years removed from a near-fatal crash while filming for video car magazine “Hot Version,” Daisuke Ito returns to the top step of the GT500 podium in the non-championship Fuji Sprint Cup, driving for Eneos Team LeMans.
2011 ZENT Cerumo Lexus SC430: The first ZENT livery to incorporate the amusement company’s famous “Play Next!” campaign – Tachikawa and new young teammate Kohei Hirate take Toyota’s only win of the 2011 season in the summer race at Fuji.
2012 Denso Kobelco SARD Lexus SC430: Juichi Wakisaka joined SARD in 2012, the year after Michelin became their tyre partners – Wakisaka and Hiroaki Ishiura win the Fuji 500km, giving the three-time champion Wakisaka his 11th and final GT500 victory as a driver. Toyota takes four victories in 2012.
2013 ZENT Cerumo Lexus SC430: Tachikawa and Hirate win the GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships for Cerumo in the last year for the naturally-aspirated Lexus SC430 – just as Cerumo did in the last year for the fourth-gen Supra. The ZENT SC clinches the title at the final round in Motegi, where the SC430 takes the last GT500 victory before the Class One era begins in 2014.
2014 Eneos Sustina Lexus RC F: The new Lexus RC F, powered by Toyota’s new RIA4G twin-turbo inline-four, wins pole for the first race of the Class One era at Okayama with the Eneos RC F of Kazuya Oshima the first to break several track records during the year. The RC F wins four races in its debut year – including that first race at Okayama – matching the mark set by the previous SC430 in 2013.
2015 Petronas TOM’s Lexus RC F: Petronas bowed out as the title sponsor of the number 36 TOM’s team after 2015, the year where James Rossiter won back to back Suzuka 1000kms – first in 2014 with Toyota’s WEC ace Kazuki Nakajima, then with Daisuke Ito, who replaced Nakajima as he prioritized WEC and Super Formula.
2016 Denso Kobelco SARD Lexus RC F: SARD finally won the GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships this year, thanks to the driving of F1 Grand Prix winner Heikki Kovalainen and Kohei Hirate, who each joined the team in 2015.
2017 KeePer TOM’s Lexus LC500: The new Lexus LC500 made history with a top six lockout in its debut race at Okayama in 2017 – the first of five wins for the new model. That victory was won by the number 37 KeePer TOM’s LC500 of Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy, who went on to become the youngest GT500 Drivers’ and Teams’ Champions in series history – both drivers aged 24 by the time they clinched the title following a win in Buriram, Thailand.
2018 WedsSport Advan Lexus LC500: Racing Project Bandoh moved up to GT500 in 2011. In 2016 they took their first victory in the top class, and in 2018, the WedsSport Bandoh LC500 of Yuji Kunimoto and 23-year-old Kenta Yamashita scored two podium finishes, as Lexus scores three victories in 2018.
2019 Wako’s 4CR Lexus LC500: The LC500, in its final season, won six out of eight races in 2019 – two of those were by the Wako’s LC500 of Team LeMans, now managed by Wakisaka and driven by veteran Kazuya Oshima and the aforementioned Yamashita – who enjoyed a breakout campaign. Even as Team LeMans and Toyota’s relationship fell apart, Oshima and Yamashita took back-to-back race wins in Buriram and Fuji, and sealed the title with Yamashita’s sensational block pass on Yuhi Sekiguchi at Motegi.
2020 KeePer TOM’s Toyota GR Supra: The much-anticipated racing return of the Toyota Supra had to wait until July 2020 – but when the fifth-gen GR Supra debuted, TOM’s scored a 1-2 finish, led by the KeePer TOM’s Supra of Hirakawa and Cassidy, and GR Supras locked out the top five, in the opening round at Fuji – truly a storybook beginning to the new Supra’s racing life in Japan!