Toyota Celica - Motorsports


In motorsports, the Celica is known for its rallying prowess. The first World Rally Championship (WRC) event for the Celica was 1972 RAC Rally when Ove Andersson drove the 1600 GTV (TA22) into the ninth place. The first victory came in 1982 Rally of New Zealand with 2000GT (RA63). From 1983 to 1986, the Group B Celica Twincam Turbo (TA64) won all six WRC events in Africa they entered. Celica GT-Four competed in Group A Rally racing from the 1988 to 1997. Celica GT-Four have won two manufacturer's titles, and four driver's titles. Carlos Sainz was the most successful driver, winning WRC titles with the ST165 in 1990 and the ST185 in 1992. The ST185 also won 1993 and 1994 titles with Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol respectively. The ST185's fourth consecutive Safari Rally victory came in 1995, which was also Toyota's 8th victory in this event. Soon after introducing the ST205 in 1995, a controversy was triggered when Toyota Team Europe was banned for 12 months from the WRC because of cheating (using an illegal turbo air restrictor). Some time after the ban expired TTE switched to the shorter Toyota Corolla WRC based on the AE111 3-door hatchback.

Special editions of the GT-Four models were produced for the public in extremely limited numbers, 5000 units, for WRC homologation requirements. They are considered a collector's item by some enthusiasts. The ST185's homogolation version is called the GT-Four RC in Japan, Group A Rallye in Australia, or Carlos Sainz Limited Edition (CS, after the driver) in Europe, and general markets.

In circuit racing, The Celica was raced by Dan Gurney's All American Racers team with factory backing in the IMSA GTU and GTO classes from 1983 to 1988. The team captured many class wins and the GTO Championship in 1987. Slightly modified versions of stock Celicas were also used as the spec car in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, always held during the weekend of the Long Beach Grand Prix or (from 1976–1983) the United States Grand Prix West until 2005. In 2006 the Scion tC replaced the Celica as the spec car for this race.

Team Racing Project Bandoh created a special rear wheel drive variant of the seventh generation Celica using a 3S-GTE engine. It was entered into GT300 class of the Japanese Grand Touring Championship(and later Super GT) until 2008, which they switched their car to Lexus IS350 in race 3 that season.

The 1st generation liftback (known as Celica LB Turbo) was used to compete in the DRM between 1977 and 1978, the car was capable of producing 560 hp (418 kW). The car was entered by Schnitzer via Toyota Deutschland and was driven by Harald Ertl and Rolf Stommelen for the following season. The car had a limited success scoring only 4th and 8th and was plagued with various problems throughout the two seasons before it was sold to TOM'S in Japan which under company founder, Nobuhide Tachi, it had a successful career. Tachi also had a successful career with the second generation version. Despite its limited success in the series, the DRM liftback was immortalised by Tamiya as a 1/12 radio controlled car and a 1/24 static model.

Seventh generation Celicas were also successfully campaigned in the NHRA Sport Compact Drag Racing series during the early 2000s. Toyotas run in the NHRA Funny Car class also used Celica bodies, although besides the body, these cars do not share any resemblance to their street counterparts.

The Celica (usually the first through third generation rear-wheel drive models powered by R series engines) was sometimes raced privately in stock car racing, usually in four-cylinder classes at the grassroots level. A less stock version of the Celica with factory backing and development was campaigned successfully by several drivers in the Goody's Dash Series. These Celicas started racing in 2000 and had 6th or 7th generation bodies but a steel tube-frame race chassis and a production based V6 engine that was not available in the street Celica. Robert Huffman won the 2003 Dash Series Championship driving one of these Celicas.

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