Toyota Racing is making yet another tilt at the Le Mans crown with this brand new Toyota TS040 Hybrid LMP1 racer, after three failed attempts with the TS010 (1992 and 1993), TS020 (better known as the GT-One; 1998 and 1999) and most recently the TS030 Hybrid (2012 and 2013). It’s going all out this year, with no less than 1,000 PS at its disposal.
New FIA World Endurance Championship WEC technical regulations warrant a brand new car. The TS040 Hybrid is a whole 10 cm narrower than the TS030 as required, and a new emphasis on fuel economy requires it to use 25% less fuel than last year’s challenger.
So out goes the old car’s 3.4 litre V8 engine, replaced by a bigger 3.7 litre unit that is now coupled to not one, but two electric motors. The V8 makes 520 PS, which is then combined with an Aisin motor up front (making it a through-the-road all-wheel drive machine) and a Denso unit round the back that add another 480 PS. Add the two together and you have the magic 1,000 PS power figure.
This makes the upcoming WEC season rather interesting, with the three main contenders having chosen radically different paths in the powertrain department. The revamped Audi R18 e-tron quattro, for instance, uses a hybrid 4.0 litre turbodiesel V6, while the new Porsche 919 Hybrid has a turbocharged 2.0 litre V4 petrol engine.
Toyota claims that its road-relevant approach to endurance racing will increase the possibilities for the transfer of its race-bred technical know-how to its future production cars. The V8 engine itself is engineered at Toyota’s Higashfuji technical centre, where its next-generation road car technology is being developed.
Two cars will contest the full WEC season, with Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima sharing the No7 car and Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi piloting the No8 machine. The racing calendar starts at Silverstone in April 20, with the famed Le Mans 24 Hours scheduled for June 14.
1992 Toyota TS010, 1998 Toyota TS020 (GT-One), 2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid