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Last year, the debut of the Toyota TS030 Hybrid didn’t go as well as the Japanese automaker planned at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With a major crash and disappointing finish the team did manage to close out the season strong proving that it could be a true rival to the endurance racing powerhouse at Audi.
Originally Toyota racing had planned on entering selected races on the World Endurance Championship circuit, but citing unexpected changes faced by the championship has now announced they will be a full-time entrant. This means that the debut of the TS030 will be on May 5th at the Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps.
For the 24 hours of Le Mans race, the regular driver line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazui Nakajima has been confirmed, but the second set of drivers has yet to be determined.
“The circumstances for the championship changed suddenly in recent weeks and Toyota Racing considers it important to work together with the FIA and ACO to establish a successful future for endurance racing. We have done everything we can to show our support and we look forward to an exciting season, including the opportunity to race two cars at Le Mans,” said Toyota racing team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita.
See video of the Toyota Hybrid race car below:
You might be familiar with the sound a Le Mans car makes while whipping around the track, but this year Toyota is going to change all that.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Japanese giant is entering in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, set to start this June. Yesterday we reported a story revealing some of the mechanical details behind the TS030 hybrid, Toyota’s strategic play to work back into the Le Mans good books.
The hybrid, they hope, will trump the diesel competition this year. Their car will feature a 3.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 paired with Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain, which will take advantage of a capacitor system instead of the lithium ion batteries found in production cars.
Until today we had only seen still photos and ready specs, but thanks to a fresh post on YouTube, we get a chance to hear what the car sounds like on the road. You don’t see or hear anything interesting for the first 30 seconds of the video, but it ends with the TS030 Hybrid turning onto the track and launching. As you probably imagine, the difference between the electric motors and the V8 is striking. You can watch the video below.
GALLERY: Toyota TS030 Hybrid
Toyota spilled more details on Tuesday of its plan to run a hybrid at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Last week we reported that the Japanese automaker would be entering such a vehicle, but there were no details on the powertrain or the plan surrounding the car itself. That changed when the company issued a release detailing their plans to run not one, but two of their hybrid contenders in the Le Mans for the first time in more than a decade.
The first of the two cars will make its race debut at the Six Hours of Spa race in May. Perhaps the most interesting information to come from Toyota today are the details behind their hybrid LMP1 entry.
It will sport a 3.4-liter normally-aspirated V8, paired with a capacitor system instead of batteries, which will store energy through the car’s regenerative braking system. Essentially, that means the hybrid will store power while slowing down and use it for a significant acceleration boost while returning to speed.
The car will also benefit from a new carbon fiber LMP1 chassis that was developed and assembled at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany.
Toyota will not, however, compete in all the FIA races. Instead, they want to use those they participate in to build up a strong racing platform for the future.
“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. Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain,” Yoshiaki Kinoshita, racing team president, said.
The decision hasn’t been made about who will man the second car, but we do know that the first car’s team includes 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Alex Wurz, last year’s 12 Hour of Sebring winner Nicolas Lapierre and former F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima.