100-HP Toyota Yaris Nearly Matches GR Yaris Lap Time in Testament to Track Mods

This is why momentum driving is some of the best driving.

byPeter Nelson|
second generation yaris track video gr yaris
Rassool Racing YouTube


There's more to driving quickly than having a lot of power, especially on a road course. Being able to effectively transmit whatever output you have to the ground, as well as doing as much as you can to not impede it, goes a long way. But if you're trying to get near a pro driver's modern hot hatch lap time and you only have 100 horsepower at your disposal, you certainly have your work cut out for you.

Recently, SoCal track rat Joey Rassool wanted to see how close he could get to Randy Pobst's lap time behind the wheel of a Toyota GR Yaris at Streets of Willow. Thing is, Rassool doesn't own a factory performance model—he drives an ultra-economy-spec, second-gen XP90 Yaris.

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The deck was stacked against him, for sure. The GR Yaris has more than 250 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and was driven by a racing veteran with decades of touring and sports car racing experience under his belt. Rassool's wholesome XP90 is far from stock with coilovers, track-ready brakes, a quality 1.5-way limited-slip differential, good alignment, most of its interior ripped out, and more. But above all: it rocks 205/50 R15, 200-treadwear Falken RT660s. 

It's a commendable build, but pro-driven power is pro-driven power.

Or is it? The thing about the GR Yaris' lap is it was on less-than-ideal tires without a limited-slip diff. On the other hand, the moxie-filled XP90 probably weighs way less than 2,500 pounds, wears better rubber, and can put most of its modest 100 horsepower to the road effectively with an LSD.

The results are impressive. Rassool clocks in a 1:29.6X against Pobst's best of 1:28.3X—less than 1.5 seconds off. Both laps are in the clockwise direction on the Streets of Willow circuit. 

Plus: Rassool knocked two seconds off his own personal best! Rassool Racing YouTube

He attributes a lot of his success to the tires and it's easy to see why. In Pobst's original Hagerty video, the GR Yaris gets spanked by a GR Corolla with much better rubber. A 200-treadwear tire will always stand up to track abuse better than factory, 280+ treadwear fare, and it usually grips better too. Although, in my own experience, the latter isn't always true. It's wild that a modest 205-wide Falken, which could've had some previous track miles, enabled such a lap. But then, I could discuss properly sizing up tires to the amount of power and weight they're pushing or pulling along all day—eventually, the juice ain't worth the squeeze with rolling resistance. 

But here's the thing: It's not all car. Rassool's gotten a lot of seat time in his Yaris over the years and he's no stranger to sending it. The video's comments discuss potential power mods, rear brake upgrades, and so on, but honestly, he'd probably be better just refining his suspension setup. While he's at it, he could experiment with different tire compounds (but not make 'em too big), install some safety mods like he mentions in the video, and continue to lap the car in its very-stock-powertrain state. Ask any SCCA B-Spec racer or GridLife Sundae Cup time attacker: Rear discs are pointless with this level of power.

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The more you dissect the two videos, the more interesting it gets. Sub-1:30 with 100 horsepower is impressive on Streets of Willow, post-repave, no matter how you slice it. He's also at a track day, trying to squeeze hot laps in between inevitable traffic, as opposed to Pobst having the entire thing to himself. Rassool's lap is quite recent, too, so the day's ambient temperatures could've been higher than when Pobst mobbed the turbocharged GR over a month ago.

The next chapter, as Rassool mentions in his video, ought to involve getting Pobst behind the wheel of the more humble Yaris. Let's have the legend show us what momentum driving is all about.

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