Toyota has generated an incredible audience by competing in NASCAR in the United States, and looks to re-enter the high-speed, high-profile LeMans Series, one of the biggest racing leagues in the world. It will be Toyota’s comeback after leaving the Series in the 1990′s. And to make a statement, the team will be racing in the LMP1 class against the likes of Audi with its TS030 Hybrid LMP1 race car. Yes, it’s a hybrid, and through racing, Toyota will be using the TSo30 as a test bed to research cutting edge hybrid driving technology. That includes the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France.
Toyota is the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship using a hybrid system, emphasising the pioneering approach to this technology which has seen more than 3.5 million Toyota hybrid vehicles sold worldwide.
“Toyota has been working on hybrid systems for motorsport for several years, during which time we have made huge progress,” said Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader for the TS030. ”Now we feel ready to bring our technology to the ultimate motorsport test: the Le Mans 24 Hours. Integrating a hybrid powertrain is, of course, a different challenge compared to a ‘standard’ powertrain. But we have worked together with partners such as DENSO, Aisin AW and Nisshinbo to develop the THS-R technology so it is part of the overall concept of the TS030 HYBRID. This technology will be used to recover up to 500kJ between braking events, energy which can be released via either front or rear motors to deliver a performance advantage. Toyota’s hybrid technology has already won a 24-hour race – the Tokachi 24 Hours in 2007 – so now we are bringing the latest THS-R development to global motorsport; we know this is a technically-demanding exercise but we are well prepared for the challenge.”
Official partners to the Toyota Racing programme include ZENT, Aisin, Nippon Steel, Takata, Toyoda Gosei and Michelin. Driving the pair of TS030 Hybrids will be several drivers with Formula 1 racing experience, including Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima along with Nicolas Lapierre. And recently announced, F1 veterans Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi are on the roster for the second car.
The new team, which is based at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany, will make its race debut on 5 May in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Have a look at the vehicle specifications of the new race car with the table provided below.