Hailed by the automotive public as a mastery of performance hatchbacks, Toyota’s locally unreleased GR Corolla recently took to the Simola Hillclimb under the modified category. Here is why.
Serving as a flexing ground for manufacturers, the Simola Hillclimb has evolved in its decade and a half of existence. The 2023 edition was not short of impressive OEM machinery with the likes of BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Suzuki, Honda and Volkswagen strutting their stuff. Toyota South Africa Motors brought a sole GR Corolla to tear it up the 1,9 km strip of Knysna tarmac but it didn’t compete in the A2 class but the B3 class instead.
The classes are categorised as follows:
- A2 Road going cars – 4 cylinder – 4WD
- B3 Racing cars – unlimited 4-cylinder – 4WD
The reasoning behind classing the Japanese hot hatch in the B3 class came down to tyres. From the factory, the GR Corolla comes fitted with Yokohama Advan Apex V601 tyres. Focused on the Japanese Domestic Market, they do not include DOT markings. The DOT symbol certifies that the tire is compliant with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s safety standards.
Organisers of the Simola Hillclimb employ DOT markings as a differentiator between road tyres and racing tyres however the set of rubber underneath the GR Corolla is the anomaly since they have E4 markings for homologation purposes, making them road tyres. Similar to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) markings, E4 represents European-tyre approval indicating is has met safety standards set by the European Regulatory Authorities.
The A2 class included the likes of Mercedes-AMG’s winning A45’s as well as Volkswagens Golf R. The 3-cylinder Japanese hatch had to challenge the likes of Petter Solberg’s Polo R WRX Supercar and a modified Polo 6R in the B3 class which had obvious advantages. As a result of the technicality, the GR Corolla didn’t qualify against its adversaries for the Sunday Class Finals.
Despite this, here is how the yet-to-be-released GR Corolla fared against other road-going hot hatches in the final qualifying session on Sunday.
- Mercedes-AMG A45 S (Clint Weston A2) – 45,939
- Mercedes-AMG A45 S (Mika Salo A2) – 46,361 (DQ)
- Volkswagen Golf R (Daniel Rowe A2) – 47,972
- Honda Civic Type R (Deon Joubert A1) – 48,927
- Volkswagen Golf R (Jonathan Mogotsi A2) – 49,331
- Volkswagen Golf R (Henning Solberg A2) – 49,391
- Toyota GR Corolla (Nathi Msimanga B3) – 49,592
- Suzuki Swift Sport (Wesley Greybe A1) – 55,397
- Suzuki Swift Sport (Sudhir Matai A1) – 55,764
- Suzuki Swift Sport (Kumbi Mtshakazi A1) – 56,403
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