toyota_eagle_mk3_gtp | cars

10.10.2019

 

Toyota Eagle MK.III GTP

Key to the success of the MkIII was the sophisticated aerodynamics developed by Fujimori with Dan Gurney himself also taking a very hands-on approach. The cooling issues were cured by a prominent air-intake in the nose, which fed the side-mounted radiators through large ducts. The intake also doubled as a front wing. The air that passed over the wing was channeled into the wheel wells where the spinning wheels further accelerated the airflow, increasing the effectiveness of the wing. While the new front wing cured the front-end issues, a vast majority of the actual downforce was still created by massive underbody ground-effect tunnels.

In addition to the program's funding, Toyota also supplied the MkIII's four-cylinder engine. This was a further development of the production-derived unit also found in the earlier GTP cars and also the GTO Celica. Displacing just over 2.1 litres, it featured twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Thanks to a sizeable turbocharger, it produced in excess in 750 bhp. Reportedly, it was so powerful that Toyota Racing Development (TRD) destroyed four dynamometers testing and preparing the 3S-GTM engines. Responsible for transferring all this power to the rear wheels was a March-sourced five-speed gearbox.

Completed in the summer of 1991, the all-new Toyota Eagle tipped the scales at the 875 kg minimum weight stipulated by the regulations. The highly efficient machine produced in excess of 3,000 kg of downforce at speeds of over 300 km/h. Quick straight out of the box, Juan Manuel Fangio II looked set to claim a debut victory at Laguna Seca in July of 1991 only to be caught out by a mis-timed pit stop. He did win a week later at Portland and again at the Del Mar season finale. Here the first Mk III was joined by a second example, piloted by Rocky Moran. He did not make it to the finish after a hefty shunt.

For the 1992 season, Fangio was once again the team-leader in the 99 car, while P.J. Jones was hired to drive the 98 Toyota Eagle. They were joined by experienced hands in the long distance races. While the Mk III qualified on pole for the season opening Daytona 24 Hours, a delayed fourth was the best they could manage in the race. There were no such issues at the Sebring 12 Hours where Fangio scored an outright victory together with Andy Wallace. Racing against factory Nissans and Jaguars, the Toyota Eagle absolutely dominated, scoring seven wins in the next 11 rounds of the IMSA Championship. Fangio and the team were crowned champions.

To rein in the Toyota Eagle, further restrictions came into effect at the start of the 1993 season, which included a higher weight, a tighter restrictor and the mandatory use of steel brakes instead of the carbon ceramic discs raced the previous two seasons. The changes had little effect, as the Toyota Eagle GTP Mk III won every race it was entered in (for reasons unknown the team sat out the Road America round). Among these victories were outright wins at Daytona and Sebring. Naturally, both Fangio and the team once again ended the year as champions.

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