Toyota Gazoo Racing has launched a new virtual global series in which the Gazoo Racing (GR) lineup, including GR road vehicles and dedicated racing cars, will participate in competitive racing throughout a season.

Known as the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup, the series kicked off on Sunday, April 25 this year with eMotorsport drivers competing on the virtual WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca track (see the leaderboards here). This exactly duplicates the physical track, which is 100km south of San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley in Northern California.

To take part in the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup, players need to register for the competition by visiting the website and following the simple steps. The next round, Round 2, takes place on May 23.

According to Toyota South Africa’s vice-president of marketing, Glenn Crompton, there is no doubt that eMotorsport is a fast-growing, exciting business.

“Toyota’s involvement with eMotorsports is premised on keeping fans engaged with motorsport while staying at home to avoid exposure to the Covid-19 virus,” he says.

“By being open to gamers across the globe, these platforms are also a great equaliser, as they make eMotorsport accessible to aspiring drivers and fans alike, offering experiences that would not have otherwise been available to some motoring enthusiasts.”

Partly because of Covid-19, 2020 was a year in which people paid more attention to eMotorsports than ever, as exemplified by the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans. Many players from all over the world also participated in the GR Supra GT Cup and the GR Yaris Time Trial, hosted by Toyota Gazoo Racing.

One of the features of the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup is that it requires drivers to change cars each round. This allows them to enjoy virtual racing with a variety of cars, something that is difficult in real-life motorsports.

After being featured in Gran Turismo Sport, approximately 1,3-million virtual GR Supra and 530 000 virtual GR Yaris vehicles were purchased, indicating that players globally enjoy the GR models. The launch of the virtual version of the recently-announced GR 86, scheduled for introduction in the middle of the year, is also expected to boost interest in eMotorsport.

“Following the successful entrance into eSports last year with the FIFA eSports Challenge, which won social and digital campaign of the year at the 2020 Sports Industry Awards, the WRC 9 eSports Challenge and the Zwift Challenge, Toyota South Africa is excited to partner with its global counterparts to ensure the success of the global Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup,” adds Crompton.

“Not only will we keep the local eSports community up to date with what is happening in the Toyota Gazoo Racing GT Cup through the Toyota SA and Toyota Gazoo Racing social media channels, we will work with some of the leading eMotorsport drivers to provide tips to get as many South African drivers into the global finals as possible.”