Toyota Proace is automaker's version of the Peugeot Expert or Citroen Jumpy
If it’s got an engine, you can race it. True to that principle, Toyota is lining up its new Proace van for a summer of high speed track action in the new Touring Van Championship.
Its three UK independent touring car teams have jumped at the chance to be the first to the grid in the new series, parading their race-prepped Proace machines in full team livery.
“The Touring Van Championship is just the kind of cost-conscious racing Britain needs,” said championship spokesman Gideon Gleman. "The Proace carries up to 1.2 tonnes in its 7m3 loadspace, so everything you need to go racing can be carried in the back. No big trucks, no catering wagons, no fancy-dan hospitality units – if it won’t fit in the Proace then it’s not needed at the circuit.”
Eagle-eyed motorists may have spotted the racing Proace undergoing its intensive test programme. Its handling has been fine tuned through 24-hour lane-switching manoeuvres on the M62, while the sequence of traffic lights along the A4 west of London has helped hone its off-the-line acceleration. This month Proace will also undergo full race assessment at the Nürburgring, competing in the annual Lastkraftwagenpokal meeting around the legendary circuit’s Flair Loop.
Teams are confident Proace will be the van to beat when the championship bursts into action in July. In fact, negotiations are under way for it to join the Avensis touring cars in the British Touring Car Championship proper before the end of the season – the racing saloons will be rebranded Avansis in honour of the occasion.
"Volvo raced an estate car back in the ‘90s, so we see it as a natural evolution of touring cars to embrace vans as a holistic, 360-degree engagement with stakeholder behaviours. If you want inclusivity in British motorsport, count us in!" said Gleman.
"Toyota has a fine history of truck racing in America – even Kimi Räikkönen has been behind the wheel of a high-speed Tundra pick-up – so the sky’s the limit."