Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition Unveiled

BY Vivek Max R

Unveiling done at the "Japan. Endless Discovery." exhibit marking 100 years since Le Mans was first run.

If you think that "Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition" is a mouthful, we agree.

It's been 100 years since the famed French 24 hours race was first run back in 1923, and to mark this momentous occasion, Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), Toyota, Toyota GAZOO Racing (TGR) and Mazda Motor Corporation jointly held an exhibit called "Japan. Endless Discovery." where this hotted-up concept Prius was unveiled to the world at the Manufacturers' Village at Le Mans in France.

Notable improvements seen here include improved aerodynamics and traction by way of exclusive performance aerodynamic parts (side skirts, canards, large rear wing, rear diffuser, etc.), lightweight carbon-fibre bonnet, wide-track suspension, 235/50R18 tyres and exclusive aerodynamic wheels, and multi-headlamps for improved nighttime visibility.

This concept Prius takes inspiration from TGR's WEC-competing GR010 HYBRID race car.

If you're wondering why Mazda is also involved in this exhibition, it's because back in 1991, Mazda was the first Japanese manufacturer to take the overall title at Le Mans, so they definitely have some standing here. Currently, TGR is the only Japanese automaker in the French endurance race that's also on a five-year winning streak.

See the manga on the walls behind the cars? That's the work of manga artist Masahito Soda, renown for his motorsports-themed capeta manga series, and was given the honour of conveying the scenery and culture of Japan as well as the history of Mazda and Toyota at Le Mans through his art form.

"For me, a race fan for as long as I can remember, June is a special month every year. It was fun for me to reflect on the famous scenes so far and to draw while imbuing my pen with respect. To the great Le Mans 24 Hours, which marks its centenary, to Mazda, which was the first Japanese manufacturer to win Le Mans, to TGR, which is contributing to the world through its victories in Le Mans and other motorsports events, and to all the racing drivers who continue to inspire us, I would like to say: 'Thank you very much.' I have learned a great deal from Japanese craftmanship and the attitude of taking on challenges while never giving up, especially since I became a manga artist. Toward the realization of a carbon-neutral society and the taking on of new challenges for the future, I believe that this race will surely open up a world of possibilities. I will put everything I have into supporting it again this year," said Masahito Soda who is also car enthusiast at heart.