This is a Toyota Auris like no other. The all-new family hatchback has been transformed into a 1,000-horsepower track hero of Formula Drift in the hands of champion driver Fredric Aasbo.
The racing prototype version of the new model has just posted a smoke-billowing win on its debut in the first round of the 2018 series at Long Beach, California.
The road-going new Auris (known as Corolla in North America) is clearly a bit of a rebel under its skin. Built in the UK, it will go on sale here next year.
The drift version was prepared in just three months by Papadakis Racing, following the standard car’s world premiere at the Detroit Motor Show in January.
The team added a wide-body conversion and switched the powertrain from front-wheel drive to a rear-wheel configuration with a four-speed manual transmission. The powerplant is a tuned, turbocharged and nitrous-injected 2.7-litre unit, capable of a four-figure bhp output.
“We got this car three months ago when it was a brand new prototype (that we) couldn’t talk about,” said Aasbo.
“It’s taken everything we have, and then some, but we’re really relieved. Honestly, I had no expectations of ending up on the podium.
“Winning the event is a testament to the team, but more so to the car. It’s crazy saying that because the (Auris) didn’t start off as a natural drift car, but it has that aggressive stance. It lends itself to drifting and I couldn’t be happier about the car choice.”
Formula Drift is the leading professional drift championship in North America and is one of the world’s fastest-growing motorsport series.
The competition is in its 15th season and this year comprises eight rounds and an invitational event, all taking place in the US. Toyota ambassador Frederic Aasbo is competing in the series’ top-level Pro Class.