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It stepped out from the shadows after Peugeot disappeared into them. It bared its teeth and let out an almighty roar. It crashed. Now - after having completed just 18 test days - Toyota’s TS030 Hybrid LMP1 competitor is ready for Le Mans.

Audi R18, meet your challenger.

A few of you might be thinking, “yeah right, that thing hasn’t got a chance of unpicking the R18”, and you’d probably be quite wrong indeed. As works drivers Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen told TG, Audi is taking Toyota’s entry very, very seriously indeed.

See more pics of the Toyota TS030 Hybrid

Two chassis’ will compete this weekend, each utilising a 3.4-litre V8 petrol engine, together with a Denso rear hybrid motor snuggled inside the gearbox casing. Under braking, energy is collected and stored in “super capacitors”, located in the cockpits, which can then turn that energy into 500Kj of extra boost when exiting a corner.

The number 7 car will be driven by double Le Mans champion Alex Wurz, Sebring 12 Hours winner Nicolas Lapierre and ex-F1 helmsmith Kazuki Nakajima. Car number 8 will feature Stephane Sarrazin, F1 driver Sebastien Buemi and Britain’s very own Anthony Davidson.

Audi drivers preview Le Mans

“To succeed here you need to be on top form, it’s as simple as that,” says Davidson. “I hope we will have the car to fight at the front, but I also know that 2012 is our first year so we have many things to learn.”

As we mentioned, just 18 days of testing stand between the first time the TS030 Hybrid first turned a wheel earlier this January, and this weekend. Will it be enough? Don’t forget, it missed the Spa six hours due to that crash…

We’re at Le Mans this weekend - trying to avoid a complicated method of limb extrication in our very own home made DeltaWing - so we’ll find out soon enough. As always, stay tuned to these pages for all the latest, and then let us know below what chance Toyota has of springing a surprise…

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