Toyota Racing officially took the covers off its first Le Mans racer for over a decade at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France this week (January 24).
The TS030 Hybrid, built at Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, continues the nomenclature of previous Toyota Le Mans challengers and will make its competitive debut at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 5 before moving on to the Le Mans 24 Hours race in June.
"Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race. But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition," said team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita.
The TS030 mates its 3.4-litre normally aspirated V8 petrol engine with a hybrid system complete with capacitor storage. Toyota is the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship and is using the Paul Ricard test to evaluate the merits of either a front or rear mounted hybrid motor that can harvest up to 500 kilojoules between braking zones.
"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," explained technical director Pascal Vasselon. "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. "
Toyota Racing intends to enter two TS030 Hybrid cars in the Le Mans 24 Hours with participation in further rounds yet to be confirmed.
Paul Healy - 25 Jan 2012