Toyota returns to the Le Mans 24-hour race next week with a two-car team that draws on years of hybrid development and extensive World Rally and Formula One experience. The TS030 hybrids are set to write a new page in the history of the legendary twice-around-the-clock enduro through the use of Toyota’s hybrid technology.
The start for the 80th running of the Le Mans classic will be in the hands of Toyota’s global vice chairman-elect Takeshi Uchiyamada, honouring the company’s return to the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time since 1999. Mr Uchiyamada was the driving force behind development of the first-generation Prius, the success of which has enabled Toyota to sell more than four million hybrid vehicles.
Toyota Racing made a successful Le Mans debut with its two hybrid cars by participating in the traditional test day last Sunday (June 3). Both TS030 Hybrids displayed their new Toyota hybrid-blue livery – the first time the two new cars had been in action and the first chance to see the cars on track against the opposition in Le Mans.
The driver line-up for car #7 – Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima – took part in the test while car #8 featured Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi. The third driver in car #8, Stéphane Sarrazin, will return to driving duties at Le Mans after recovering from cuts and bruises due to a cycling accident.
On Tuesday (June 5), the team completed a final shakedown at the short Le Mans Bugatti circuit, bedding down the parts that will be used during the 24-hour race that starts on Saturday, June 16, at 3 p.m. The team is now working on the final details before technical scrutineering next Monday in Le Mans city centre.
The TS030 Hybrid is Toyota’s successor to the iconic TS010 and TS020 cars which participated at Le Mans with podium success in the 1990s. The 2012 THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System – Racing) powertrain is designed to deliver maximum performance and features an all-new V8 3.4-litre normally-aspirated petrol engine and hybrid system with capacitor storage.
Like Toyota’s full hybrid road cars, energy is regenerated under braking and the TS030 Hybrid can operate in electric-only mode, achieving zero emissions and zero fuel consumption. Regulations limit hybrid systems to recovering a maximum of 500kJ between braking zones while restricting deployment to only two wheels.
Hybrid Project Leader Hisatake Murata – an engine engineer for the #33 TS010 which finished second in 1992 – said Toyota’s goal has been focused on generating additional performance through the hybrid system. “It can be used in two ways: either it delivers faster lap times through improving speed on the exit of corners, or you choose to save fuel by using the internal combustion engine less on corner exit and allowing the hybrid system to compensate. We are aiming for faster lap times; that is our clear priority.”
Team technical director Pascal Vasselon said modern endurance racing demanded cars that were capable of pushing to the limit for 24 hours. “One of the challenges facing us in designing and engineering the car was how to manage the additional weight of the hybrid system, so we have worked on packaging and weight distribution to find the optimum solution, our target is to show the TS030 Hybrid is the fastest hybrid car on the grid and experience some enjoyable moments along the way.”
In October last year, Toyota became the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship using a hybrid system, emphasising its pioneering approach to this technology. Toyota aims to learn from the experience of competing in such a challenging motorsport environment to enhance its production car technology.
Designation: TS030 HYBRID
Type: Le Mans Prototype (LMP1)
Bodywork: Carbon fibre composite
Gearbox: Transversal with 6 gears sequential
Gearbox casing: Aluminium
Driveshafts: Constant velocity tripod plunge-joint driveshafts
Differential: Viscous mechanical locking differential
Suspension: Independent front and rear double wishbone, pushrod-system
Springs: Torsion bars
Anti roll bars: Front and rear
Steering: Hydraulically assisted
Brakes: Dual circuit hydraulic braking system, mono-block light-alloy brake callipers front and rear
Discs: Ventilated front and rear in carbon
Rims: Magnesium forged wheels
Front rims: 14.5 x 18 inch
Rear rims: 14.5 x 18 inch
Tyres: Michelin radial
Front tyres: 36/71-18
Rear tyres: 37/71-18
Fuel capacity: 73 litres
Powertrain: Toyota Hybrid System – Racing (THS-R)
Engine: 90° V8 normally aspirated engine
Engine Capacity: 3.4l
Air restrictors: 1 x 43.3mm
Front Hybrid Motor: Aisin AW
Rear Hybrid Motor: Denso
Toyota Le Mans 24-hour Enduro