Joining iRacing as a free car this season is the Toyota GR86 Cup. Already popular, here’s how to master it and get a head start on your rivals.
Image Credit: iRacing
For Season 1 of 2023, iRacing has added the Toyota GR86 Cup car. Bringing its own single-make championship as well as joining the Production Car Challenge, it’s sure to be a popular car. In fact being a free car as part of the base game, expect to see massive participation using it.
The Toyota GR86 Cup is essentially a road-going GR86 on steroids. The standard car available to purchase from your local dealer gets a fancy Bosch ECU and a custom exhaust. Beefy brakes and adjustable suspension pair nicely with the modified bodywork including the carbon fibre rear wing. Finally, plenty of safety equipment from the harnesses to the roll cage show this is a race car. Though aside from those changes, it really is a standard sports model.
Within the Production Car Challenge in iRacing, the GR86 replaces the outgoing Pontiac Solstice. This more refined model runs ahead of the Mazda MX-5 and around the same pace as the VW Jetta on most circuits. So it seems the series will see much closer racing between the classes. Staying ahead of the busy pack will be crucial to stay out of trouble.
The Toyota GR86 isn’t a fast race car
Despite its new ECU, the Toyota GR86 Cup car feels very low on power. Putting out a total of 228hp, its 2.4-litre boxer engine requires the car to be pushed. Maintaining a high minimum apex speed will be important as there’s no power to compensate for a poor exit.
Furthermore, the little four-pot engine seems to get the most out of its power towards the top end of the rev range. Short shifting will only hurt you in this car, as will hills. Be sure to hold gears longer than you think on long uphill sections such as the long flat-out turns of Kesselchen on the Nordschleife.
The Toyota’s low power certainly makes standing starts a boring affair. The Michelin tyres the car runs allows for very little slip, so with little power to begin with, the car simply bogs at the start. There’s no point attempting any special starting procedure here.
The best and only way to achieve a good standing start in the Toyota GR86 is to build the revs and drop the clutch. The car will predictably bog down massively before slowly gaining speed. Turn 1 is where drivers will make up the difference.
A soft road car at heart
Although it could be tempting to throw the car up the inside at Turn 1 of a race after the painfully slow start, you shouldn’t. The Gazoo Racing product can get very unstable when using the brakes excessively. Much like the GT3 cars in iRacing, you do not want to be hard on the brakes. If you are, the rear will get extremely light and could loop around. Facing a wave of oncoming traffic is surely not the way you want to start your race.
Having tested the car out for over a week now, we say this is due to the car’s road-going roots as it has a very soft suspension setup. As such, getting the longitudinal weight transfer done smoothly is key and instead of slamming on the brakes and using the ABS, be light-footed on the pedal and gentle on the transfer of weight. It can also help to feather the throttle akin to how you would drive a rally car in order to stabilise corner entry.
The upside to this soft suspension setup is that you can take large chunks of kerb without breaking a sweat. The Production Car Challenge is currently racing at the Nordschleife and even those kerbs don’t bother the GR.
Unlike the stiffer Mazda which tends to be fastest with some slip through faster turns, the Toyota has a much more neutral balance. Some understeer can come on mid-corner, but that’s easily settled once throttle is applied. In fact, the rear wing does a good job to glue the car to the ground as the power comes on. That ties together nicely with the need to keep carry speed into corners. Though as I say, you don’t want to be too aggressive on the brakes or turn-in, otherwise you’ll over rotate the car.
Has this Toyota GR86 guide for the iRacing Cup car helped you? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!