The Toyota MR2 might have been a popular mid-engine sports car for the brand, but it was not a powerhouse model. Pieter Zellie doesn’t specify the “few” modifications he has made to his two-door Toyota to make it faster, but they were enough to allow him to win the Knysna Simola Hillclimb in South Africa.

The car uses a modified turbocharged 3.5-lite engine that powers the rear wheels, while many of his competitors used all-wheel-drive race cars. The engine makes a reported 850 horsepower (625 kilowatts). The floor of the Toyota, which Zellie calls “over-designed,” is made from carbon fiber and Kevlar and really helped improve the car’s aerodynamics, which “transformed the car.”

Zellie began racing in 1996 after he bought a Cobra, hitting the drag strip and setting records. He then moved to track racing. What started as a hobby has turned into much more than that, with even his wife joining him on the race track. He now spends his time improving the car, which he says helps keep him sane.

That includes having his team complete its own R&D for the vehicle, including the aerodynamics. The car has improved by more than two seconds with aero upgrades – and the car has yet to spend time in a wind tunnel. That’s why he believes there is more room for improvements with its aerodynamics.

The car also had a unique firewall that needed special approval from the FIA, while Pirelli tires with a special hillclimb compound provided its grip. Zellie says he’s always loved speed, and the mid-engine MR2 race car is an extension of that enjoyment. It doesn’t sound like development is stopping as Zeelie also believes the MR2’s engine has a lot more potential, too, making even more horsepower and torque, though he did not elaborate. Maybe 1,000 hp is possible?

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