Introducing the new Toyota TS030Posted: January 25, 2012
Last week, I wrote about Peugeot pulling the plug on their Le Mans and WEC competitor, the 908. In that post, I uploaded photos spy photos of the new Toyota challenger testing at the Paul Ricard HTTT. Over the past 24 hours, Toyota Motorsport officially unveiled their newest Le Mans competitor – the TS030.
The TS030 name follows the Toyota naming tradition that started with the TS010 in 1992 and the TS020 – known as the GT-One – in 1998. Following two unsuccessful years racing the GT-One, Toyota quit sportscar racing and turned their attention towards F1. They joined the F1 grid in 2002 but after 8 years in F1 without a victory and only 13 podiums, Toyota quit F1 in 2009.
After the 2011 Le Mans and the formation of the World Endurance Championship, Toyota announced their intention of returning to sportscar racing. Last week, fuzzy photos were released via Twitter, but today we get up close and personal with this newest challenger.
Featuring an all-new 3.4-liter V8 normally aspirated petrol/gasoline engine, the TS030 combines Toyota’s electric hybrid system powertrain with a “recovery system” capable of reclaiming energy under braking, the first to be entered in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
According to Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon “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.”
Is this similar system to the KERS system used in F1 – storing energy in a battery that unleashes a certain boost at the push of a button? Or something similar to Porsche’s hybrid system that uses electric motors to drive the wheels under certain circumstances? I don’t know – I’m sure more details will be released in the coming weeks and months leading up to Spa and Le Mans. This is, however, a different engine than what Rebellion Racing raced with last year and again this year.
Driver Alex Wurz commented on the hybrid system: “It was cool to drive the TS030 HYBRID car for the first time. Just leaving the garage on the electric power is very futuristic, then when you let the clutch go and the internal combustion engine kicks in it is like an old friend has returned! When we put on the slick tyre I could feel the car generates a very good amount of grip so I think we have a good base and I think we can turn this into a really fast car.”
Armed with former Peugeot drivers Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre, the car will make its debut in the 2nd round of the WEC at the 6 Hours of Spa in May. Toyota will then field two TS030’s a month later in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Looking at these shots, the TS030 (God, I hope they come up with a nickname similar to the old GT-One), it takes similar design ques from the Audi R18 and the Peugeot 908. The front end splitter, bubble canopy, rear fin, and rear wing elements look like the offspring of the R18 and the 908. As much as I like the Audi LED headlights, I like the 3-lamp cluster on this car.
Here’s an official on-board video of Wurz taking the car out at the HTTT.