TOYOTA MOTORSPORT GmbH HERITAGE
Since 1979, the Toyota Motorsport GmbH site in Cologne has been the home to various top-level motorsport programmes as well as a tuning and sports accessories business.
Toyota Team Europe (TTE), as the company was known when it established itself in Cologne, became a by-word for success in the World Rally Championship.
Led by Ove Andersson, TTE was a regular front-runner and became particularly synonymous with dominance of the Safari Rally, which it won on four out of five years from 1984 to 1988 with variations of the Toyota Celica.
At the same time, TTE was spreading its competitive wings across the world and helped Mohammed Bin Sulayem to four consecutive Middle East Rally Championships.
World Championship success followed soon, in 1990, when Carlos Sainz won the drivers’ title at the wheel of a Toyota Celica GT-Four, prepared and run by TTE. He added another World Championship two years later.
In 1993, TTE won its first manufacturers’ title, with Juha Kankunnen adding the drivers’ crown for an historic double success which was repeated a year later.
That year also saw the renaming of TTE, which became Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) after Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) took sole ownership.
A year later, TMG began to diversify with the launch of a tuning subsidiary, called TTE in honour of the rally successes achieved under that banner
Rally success continued for the company and the team earned both World Championships in 1994, with Didier Auriol taking the drivers’ title and TMG the manufacturers’.
In 1996, TTE’s first tuning products were rolled out across Europe while on the stages, TMG won the European Rally Championship with Armin Schwarz.
Having diversified from rally into tuning parts, TMGfurther spread its wings in 1998 when it entered the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race with the GT-One.
In its first Le Mans 24 Hours, the GT-One set the fastest lap and recorded the highest top speed in the event. Those feats were repeated 12 months later, when the GT-One also started on pole position, but bad luck left TMG with just second place.
That same year TMG concluded its participation in World Rally, fittingly ending on a high note by winning the manufacturers’ championship. During its World Rally career, the company won four drivers’ and three manufacturers’ World Championships.
The year 1999 also marked a new era for TMG when it was announced Toyota would enter the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with a team based in Cologne.
As those preparations gathered pace, TMG’s tuning arm was busy with its first sports conversion project, the Lexus IS Compressor.
A full year of testing in 2001 was the prelude to Toyota’s Formula 1 debut, which saw Mika Salo score a remarkable point in the TMG team’s first-ever Grand Prix, in Australia.
As the only new constructor to enter Formula 1 between 1998 and 2009 - and one of only two teams to build the entire car, including engine, under one roof – TMG’s experience and performance increased continuously.
In 2005, TMG’s first pole and podium positions were achieved while on the tuning side, the Corolla TS Compressor sports conversion was launched in cooperation with TMC.
Further podium and pole positions followed in the coming years, culminating in an all-Toyota front row in Bahrain 2009, but at the end of that season, TMC announced its immediate withdrawal from Formula 1.
Thus TMG’s final Formula 1 record stands at 13 podiums, three pole positions, three fastest laps and 278.5 points.
Drawing inspiration from the spirit of diversification already shown since 1979, in November 2009 TMG began a new era as a high-performance centre for design, development and production, catering primarily for the automotive and motorsport industries.