Toyota has saved Le Mans from impending dullness! And it’ll be more petrol-y! Huzzah!
It’s bringing two of its new petrol-electric TS030 Hybrids to the legendary 24-hour race this June, filling the void left by Peugeot, which recently announced it won’t be racing at this year’s event.
Technical Director, Pascal Vasselon, says: “The two main performance drivers of our TS030 HYBRID car are the aerodynamics and the hybrid system. The regulations for hybrid powertrains allow us to recover energy under braking and release this to improve acceleration out of a corner, delivering lap-time benefit. For any given performance level, a hybrid powertrain will achieve this with less fuel so it is an extremely relevant technology and one we are excited to be bringing to endurance racing.”
The first TS030 completed a three-day shakedown at the Paul Ricard circuit between January 11 and 13, which included several nighttime runs. Driver Alex Wurz – he who drove Peugeot’s Le Mans-winning LMP1 car in 2009 – says he’s enjoyed driving the car so far: “It generates a very good amount of grip so I think we have a good base and I think we can turn this into a really fast car”.
He’ll share the lead entry with Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima, but the second car’s helmsmiths have yet to be announced. Toyota politely declined to answer whether it’ll be accepting any other refugees from the ex-Peugeot driver pool…
The TS030s use a snazzy THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System – Racing) powertrain, featuring an all-new 3.4-litre normally aspirated V8 petrol engine and hybrid system with capacitor storage (whatever that means) and the oily stuff’s hidden under a brand-spankers carbon fibre LMP1 chassis, which was developed and produced at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Germany, where the complete car was assembled for the first time in preparation for testing.
As well as Le Mans, the Japanese manufacturer has said it’ll be shipping its cars to additional rounds of the new FIA World Endurance Championship, but hasn’t yet confirmed details.
Reckon Toyota has rescued Le Mans, TopGear.commers?