Seems like everywhere you look, the new Toyota Supra is all car people wanna talk about. Can you blame anyone, though? It's a revival of one of the most iconic Japanese sports car marques of the Golden Era. Maybe you're sick of it already, but so far, we really haven't seen a lot of real-world tests. Through my experience traveling as a former Super Street editor and now full-time photographer, there's really only one test I'd say holds more water than anything else: a real torture out on the field. If the Supra can suffer and come out the other end in one piece, then it proves it's actually a pretty damn good car (whether you like it or not). This test in question is the annual 24 Hours N rburgring endurance race.
Quick crash course in case you've been living in a cave your whole life... The N rburgring is a 26-kilometer (16-mile) circuit in Germany that's widely regarded as the most dangerous and ridiculous racetrack on Earth. It was built in 1927, and the roots of nearly every car we consider to be "cool" can be linked to this place in one way or another. Every year (2019 being the 47th consecutive) there is a 24-hour endurance race held here, a race kind of like Le Mans or Daytona—but just a little bit cooler because of the location. Actually, I'll just say it...N24 is a lot cooler, because it's not in France or Florida. Trust me, I've been to all of them.
So now that you're up to speed, back to the Supra. The year 2019 marks the first time the Supra GT4 race car is getting meaningful on track development sessions. The GAZOO Racing (aka, the reason there's a "GR" badge on the car) prototype GT4 car was unveiled late in 2018 and ran a number of shorter races in the interim, but the 24-hour race is the real reason it was built. A lot can go wrong in the course of a day of nonstop racing: flaws in engines, transmissions, suspensions, pretty much anything that isn't up to snuff will show itself in a race like this. In fact, that's the real reason car manufacturers like to race. It's not about the whole "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" thing; it's about R&D, plain and simple (and maybe some bragging rights, too). But mostly it's the chance to see how their cars perform and stand up to the toughest real-world challenges.
The Supra started 99th out of a field of 155 cars, with its fastest qualifying lap of 9:38.03 on the full VLN layout of the track. It's classified as SP8T by VLN/N24 rules, but out of context that means nothing, so just think of it like this: The Supra is a GT4 race car and was competing in class against a BMW M4 GT4, AMG GT GT4, a couple Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4s, and a short list of other custom-built "GT4-style" cars. All very fast, very legitimate race cars. Far from a shoe-in class.
The Supra fought hard and finished Third in class and 41st overall, having completed a total of 137 laps. Third in a class of eight is respectable no matter who you are, and so is 41st overall from a field of 155. Nothing bad happened, at least nothing major. The Supra suffered a moderate collision at one point, but there were no major mechanical issues throughout the whole race. I'd say the biggest point worth noting is that it's massively impressive to move up more than 50 total positions from your start on the grid!
Another thing worth mentioning is the team of drivers on the roster. The roof line of the car showed three flags—Japan twice, Germany, and Holland. The names of the drivers read Masahiro Sasaki, Uwe Kleen, Herwig Daenens (A90 Supra master and development driver), and last, but not least, MORIZO. No one really knew who this mysterious Prince-style, one-name MORIZO guy was at first, but shortly before the race it was revealed that MORIZO was in fact none other than Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. Toyoda-San is well known for his love of motorsports, so really, it's not that big of a surprise. I think the point of the name change was because he wanted to not make a big deal out of him being there and to try to just kind of be "one of the guys." For that, mad respect!