Nestled in the mountainous area overlapping the cities of Toyota and Okazaki stands the Toyota Technical Centre Shimoyama, covering a total area of 6.508 kilometres and encompassing three separate test circuits.
Interestingly, the so-called Third Circuit or Country Road, which measures 5.3km in total and is modelled after Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife (20.8km excluding GP track), was completed ahead of the First and Second circuits back in 2019.
The other two are due for completion this year.
The facility itself was commissioned by Toyota Motor Corporation chairman Akio Toyoda when he was still president and CEO of the company, and is designed to do a lot more than just collect data for vehicle development.
As a driver who has previously raced in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Mr Toyoda (also known as Morizo Kinoshita when racing), described the test centre’s three circuits as a place where vehicles will be tested to their limits and beyond.
“I have been building these circuits as both a path to train cars, and a path to break cars,” he said.
Speaking about the Third Circuit specifically after it was completed in 2019, when he also got the chance to drive it, Toyoda said: “With its intense ups and downs, a series of endless corners… It actually made me feel as if I was driving the Nürburgring.”
It was conceived with the help of test drivers using knowledge and know-how from countless hours testing at the Nürburgring, and has been designed to test new models for enhanced durability.
“Nürburgring is known for its unique ability to bring out problems in cars, even cars that have been tested many times in Japan can run into problems after just a little driving,” he said.
“If something goes wrong, we return the car to the pit, repair it, and drive it again. By repeating this we are able to tune the car.”
While the Third Circuit was designed with uphills, downhills, right corners, left corners, with the view to creating a mountain road in the countryside, the First Circuit is an oval shape with the longest straightaway, while the Second Circuit comprises both a straightaway but also features several other tracks.
With the two remaining circuits due for completion later this year, there’s a chance we might get to test out the facilities at Shimoyama, especially the ‘Country Road’ and hopefully in something a bit special from Gazoo Racing.
We’ll keep you posted.