Toyota Gazoo Racing has revealed its all-new TS050 Hybrid challenger for the 2016 World Endurance Championship.
After falling off the pace of Porsche and Audi in 2015 and subsequently losing its WEC crowns, Toyota is keen to bounce back this season with the unveiling of its third new LMP1 car since it joined WEC in 2012.
Toyota's hopes of a fightback rest on the success of its new 2.4 litre, twin-turbo, direct injection V6 petrol engine working with its 8MJ hybrid system which have been developed by Motor Sport Unit Development Division at Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre.
The Japanese manufacturer's switch from super capacitor to battery storage allows the TS050 HYBRID has enabled a step up to the 8MJ hybrid class and the increase in power is focused on closing the outright speed gap conceded to it German rivals in 2015.
“This is a very exciting season for Toyota Gazoo Racing, particularly because we have a completely new car with a new powertrain concept,” Toyota team president, Toshio Sato, said. “This reflects the current trend in road cars and gives us more opportunities to transfer know-how and technology into Toyota's road car developments.
“Our WEC activities are motivated by the development of technology and people; we are already seeing the results of our activities in current road cars. But as well as helping TOYOTA to make ever-better cars, we also want to win.
“Our clear target this year is to compete again at the front, after a very disappointing 2015 season. In Higashi-Fuji and Cologne, there has been a huge effort to prepare for this season; everyone is highly motivated and pushing together to get back onto the centre of the podium.”
Hisatake Murata, general manager of Toyota's motorsport unit development division, says due to the new stricter regulations on fuel flow it was forced to revised its fundamental powertrain approach and despite meeting challenges with weight and cooling is confident the car can take on Audi and Porsche.
“The regulations for this season include a reduction in fuel flow and total fuel energy of approximately 7.5%,” Murata explained. “As motorsport engineers, we want to always increase the performance of the powertrain so it was important to compensate for this reduction with a more efficient, powerful powertrain.
“We believe a V6, direct injection, twin turbo engine achieves the best balance of power and efficiency considering the current regulations. Combined with our move into the 8MJ class, this will give us significantly improved torque compared to the previous powertrain; this was a key target for the new car.”
Having lost its #1 plates for 2016 to Porsche, Toyota has entered two TS050 Hybrid challengers for the full World Endurance Championship. In the #5 there is an unchanged line-up of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, while in the sister #6 car the retired Alex Wurz is replaced by former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi who joins the familiar pairing of Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin.
The WEC Prologue gets underway on the 25-26 March at the Paul Ricard circuit ahead of the season opener at Silverstone on the 15-17 April.