Are the dudes at Super Street trendsetters? Clairvoyant? Little o’ both? Maybe, but we are sure of one thing: we know when a car has potential, and the new Toyota Corolla hatchback – with its sexy lines, unicorn manual transmission, and highly affordable price point – has potential. We showed you as much with our 2018 SEMA Show project car imagined by Jon SIbal and executed by Young Tea and Auto Tuned, and now it appears as though we have some like-minded enthusiasts on the other side of the Atlantic, with Speedworks Motorsport opting for the platform to take on a different kind of vehicular challenge: racing in the 2019 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
The team has picked up official backing from Toyota and is now called “Team Toyota GB with Speedworks Motorsport,” and just today announced it has added lubricant company Motul as a sponsor for the season ahead. The Corolla is prepped to the FIA’s Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) spec, which means the racer is limited to a 300-plus brake horsepower, 2-liter turbocharged, direct injection power plant, and we’re guessing it’s nothing like the hatch’s native engine (def not turbo); more details should emerge next week when the squad takes the car testing. NGTC cars also have mandated an Xtrac six-speed sequential-shift gearbox and AP Racing carbon clutch; double wishbone suspension with coilovers; AP Racing brakes; Cosworth electronics; center-locking wheels; limited aero (and a widebody, as suggested by the renderings with this story); and additional racing inclined regulations meant to level the playing field.
Both the Corolla and Team Toyota GB have heritage in the BTCC; British driver Chris Hodgetts claimed back-to-back championship titles in a Corolla GT Coupé in 1986/87, and Team Toyota GB remained a front-running force in the series through to the popular 1990s Super Touring era. In recent years, Speedworks has done well for itself in the series, with their ace Tom Ingram securing nine race wins and consecutive Independent Teams’ and Drivers’ trophies in 2017 and 2018 in a Toyota Avensis sedan.
Can Ingram make it a three-peat in an all-new Corolla? Only time will tell – Team Toyota GB with Speedworks Motorsport are due to head out on track with the hatchback for the first time next week at a UK venue ahead of a trip to Spain for an extended testing program. The 2019 BTCC season will begin at Brands Hatch on April 6th and 7th.