Toyota has announced that it plans to run two cars in the Le Mans 24 Hours after officially launching the new TS030 HYBRID it will campaign in selected rounds of the new FIA World Endurance Championship this season.
Initially, the team had announced it would return to top level sportscar competition with a one car entry, but – after a race debut at Spa in May – the team now intends to run two cars at La Sarthe with plans for remaining WEC rounds still to be announced.
Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima will share the first car with drivers for the second entry at Le Mans still to be announced. Sebastien Buemi has been linked to a drive [See separate story HERE
], while Japanese driver Hiroaki Ishiura sampled the hybrid car during a three-day test at Paul Ricard.
That test, where Wurz and Lapierre were also in action, saw the car complete 'several hundred' kilometres of running in both day and night conditions
“The two main performance drivers of our TS030 HYBRID car are the aerodynamics and the hybrid system,” technical director Pascal Vasselon said. “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.
“Another key point in our development phase has been delivering aerodynamic efficiency. The development team at TMG has worked very hard to achieve an optimum aero concept using our state-of-the-art aero development processes based on combined wind tunnel testing and CFD. Judging by the positive feedback we received during the roll-out we have a very good base on which to build in the coming weeks.”
Having had chance to sample the car, Lapierre said his initial impressions were positive and that the machine had shown plenty of potential.
“My first impression from the roll-out was positive; the chassis is really advanced and the hybrid system works very well,” he said. “The TS030 HYBRID car has good reaction to the steering with quick and efficient response combined with an impressive base level of downforce which is a nice feeling for a driver.
“It is totally different from anything I have known before because the philosophy is different. So our roll-out was promising and we saw the car's potential on several levels; we still have plenty of work to do but I think that we will have a strong package. We are starting from a blank page so the challenge is exciting."