Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

The Citizen ready to burn rubber in the Toyota GR Cup again

Six members of motoring media to battle it out in GR Corollas over seven rounds.

The Citizen Motoring can proudly announce it has received another invitation from Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa to take part in this year’s GR Cup – but with a slight change.

After road test editor Mark Jones piloted a Toyota GR Yaris in the inaugural series in 2022 and then a GR 86 last year, I have been given the unique and semi-surreal opportunity to drive a GR Corolla on South Africa’s premier race tracks this year.

The programme stays the same, with The Citizen Motoring being one of six members of the motoring media to shoot it out during seven rounds the National Extreme Series. My five rivals are Sean Nurse (AutoTrader), Bernie Hellberg (Driven), Kumbi Mtshakazi (Kumbi-M on Cars), Alex Shahini (CarMag) and Hannes Visser (La’t Wiel).

Except for Nurse, who competed in 2022, all the others will be making their debuts. This makes Nurse the obvious pre-season favourite with bookmakers – so, no pressure then Seanie.

ALSO READ: The Citizen hangs tough to finish third in Toyota GR Cup

Kyalami joins circuit

A change from last year’s schedule sees Kyalami replace one of the three outings at Zwartkops. The season kicks off on 16 March at Killarney in Cape Town, followed by Kyalami (13 April), Zwartkops (18 May), Aldo Scribante in Gqeberha (29 June), East London (27 July), Killarney (21 September) and Zwartkops (26 October).

The six of us will drive in identical cars, with slight racing modifications. These include a roll cage, exhaust modification, Dunlop Direzza semi-slick tyres, Powerbrake Big brake upgrade with Ferodo Track spec pads, OMP Racing eat and harness and lowering springs.

ALSO READ: Target achieved for Toyota Gazoo Racing in Kyalami 9-Hour

Under Toyota GR Corolla’s bonnet

Our Toyota GR Corollas produce similar outputs to those you can drive off a showroom floor. This hot hatch shares the three-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with the GR Yaris.

It is mated to the six-speed intelligent manual transmission, which sends 221kW of power and 360Nm of torque to all four corners via the GR-Four all-wheel-drive system, which features a limited slip differential.

While the Toyota GR Corolla already looks mean in standard guise with its aggressive styling and distinctive three tailpipes, the racing decals transform it to another level. Judging by how the car felt during a shakedown at Zwartkops last week, we are in for an unforgettable season of racing.

ALSO READ: The Citizen gets another drive in Toyota GR Cup

Read more on these topics

Motorsport Toyota Corolla Toyota gazoo racing