As the most popular form of motorsports in Japan, the Japan Grand Touring Championship (JGTC) featured the country's top cars doing battle on the country's most famous racetracks. The series was renamed the Super GT series in 2005, with races held in Malaysia and China, expanding its appeal throughout Asia. So it was understandable that Japanese automobile manufacturers poured plenty of energy and resources into producing results in this racing series.
Toyota was among the early pioneers, whose Supra, running in the GT500 class, was the main challenge to the Nissan GT-R that had dominated three straight years beginning with the first year of the championship in 1993. In 1997, the Supra finally dethroned the GT-R and became series champion with the Number 36 Castrol Tom's Supra.
The winning car was piloted by Michael Krumm and Pedro de la Rosa, who began racing the Tom's Supra starting with the second round of that year. In their next five races, they won two races and placed 2nd and 3rd in two others to secure the championship. This was accomplished despite the face that the car had not changed greatly from the previous year; the only differences were a switch from an "H"-pattern gearbox to a Hewland 6-speed sequential transmission, and lowering engine displacement to 2.0 liters to decrease weight. Still, the 3S-GT engine produced nearly 493 BHP.
When this was all combined with better structural rigidity, an improved suspension system and better aerodynamics, the GT500 race Supra had no equals.
- ↑ The race in question, planned at Shanghai International Circuit in 2005, was cancelled; Super GT have not run more than one foreign race since