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Toyota rookie completes dream Le Mans trip

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03 Jul
Sydneysider Ryan Tomsett had the trip of a lifetime before the new season starts in Townsville
3 mins by Chad Neylon
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  • Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia GR Cup starts this weekend

  • Sydney teen Ryan Tomsett handpicked by Toyota to attend Le Mans

  • Tomsett broke Broc Feeney’s 'youngest ever winner' record last year

While most drivers were readying themselves for event 1 of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia GR Cup by pounding out test laps or virtual sessions in the sim, one young driver was rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in global motorsport at the Le Mans 24 Hour.

16-year-old Ryan Tomsett from Sydney was handpicked by Toyota Australia to attend the prestigious endurance event as a guest of the reigning FIA World Endurance Championship winning Toyota GAZOO Racing Team.

The rookie driver impressed in his debut season in 2023, breaking Broc Feeney’s record as the youngest TGRA GR Cup race winner at The Bend, a performance that caught the eye of Toyota, ultimately leading to the teenager’s trip to Le Sarthe.

The recent trip also included a brief stop in Cologne, Germany, to visit the TGR Europe factory and motorsport museum.

"The TGR-E Factory was seriously unreal,” Tomsett said when reflecting on his ‘money-can’t-buy’ trip.

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“All the behind the scenes work that goes on there is F1 level. Definitely for me the coolest part was the sim room, the amount of technology was just so advanced.

"Heading up on the freeway in France, you see all the signs saying Le Mans next exit and then you actually get there, it was very overwhelming and it didn’t really sink in until now.”

The access granted to the former 2-time Australian karting champion was enough to make any race fan envious.

Tomsett was welcome in the factory team garage, hospitality areas and starting grid, meeting more than just the six drivers of the Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

"We met a couple of famous people over there, Roger Penske, Zak Brown and Richard Hammond," Tomsett added.

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"[When] we met Roger, he was so friendly to us, he was so accomodating and very nice to us."

While Toyota fell just shy of a 5th 24 Hour crown, the experience of witnessing these incredible machines race into the night is an experience that Tomsett will long cherish.

"Seeing the cars at night, how bright the lights are and the environment and the atmosphere the whole race itself, I didn’t make the whole 24 hours sadly but the whole race was crazy," Tomsett said.

Previous Kaizen Award winners include former series champion, Lachlan Gibbons, who received a trip to the GR Festival in Japan in 2019 and Super2 racer, Jarrod Hughes who attended the 2023 Daytona 500 as a guest of Toyota USA.

The recent trip overseas further fuelled Tomsett’s ambitions to race sportscars at a professional level.

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”For my career I’ve always wanted to be overseas driving GT3, it’s even backed that idea up more. It’s put it stronger in my mind that that’s where I want to end up, just to have that experience and see what it’s like has definitely made me want to push even harder to get there," the teenager said.

"A big thank you to all the people at Toyota Australia for putting this on for me, it was incredible. Everyone at TGR-E, how accomodating they were to me, thank you. It was a trip of a lifetime, it was amazing.”

Tomsett will be one of 32 drivers hitting the Townsville Street Circuit for the first of five events in the newly renamed GR Cup, in a field that includes invited guest stars Fabian Coulthard and Jayden Ojeda.

It’s the first season for the new GR 86 after eight successful years and over 100 races of the older model Toyota 86.

Previous GR Cup alumni include the two Triple Eight Race Engineering teammates, Will Brown and Feeney, currently sitting first and second in the Repco Supercars Championship.

Fans can catch round 1 of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Australia GR Cup live on Fox Sports, Kayo and the Seven Network.

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