Fire damage to the APR Racing Prius GT. Image: APR RacingEnlarge Photo
Last December we brought you the unlikely news that the Toyota Prius had been approved for competition
in Japan’s Super GT series. The Prius was named as a replacement for the Toyota Corolla Axio, and was set to run in the GT300 class
, which restricts output to 300 horsepower.
If you get the feeling that a 300-horsepower Prius racecar differs from those on your local Toyota dealer’s lot, you’d be correct. Cars in the Super GT series
are allowed to run different engines and drivetrains, and the GT300 Prius is a mid-engined, rear drive beast fitted with a V-6 engine and supplemental electric power.
Last weekend was supposed to be shakedown testing for the Super GT series
at Okayama, Japan, but things didn’t go exactly as planned for APR Racing. Overflowing gasoline caught fire and caused significant damage to the number 31 Prius GT. While the driver was unhurt, the car likely won’t be repaired in time for March 31 season opener.
It’s worth noting that the fire wasn’t caused by any electrical or hybrid drive system components, but instead by an old-fashioned fuel leak. As the APR Racing blog noted, the fire was kept isolated from the hybrid system components, which escaped without damage.
Perhaps the team’s blog
says it best: “in the opening round... a shiny Prius please expect not.” We wish APR much luck in returning the car to racing form, and with the rest of its Super GT season; if ever there was an underdog worth cheering for, this is it.