Next weekend, Toyota Racing is hoping to make history when it enters two TS030 sports racers in the LMP1 prototype class.
Both cars feature a chassis designed and developed by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (Germany). The propulsion system features a 3.4-liter V8 teamed with a gearbox mounted Denso hybrid electric motor. Super capacitors mounted close to the cockpit allow energy not only to be regenerated under braking on the Sarthe circuit but also to provide a boost during cornering.
The idea is to help maximize lap times and competitiveness, and Toyota has recruited capable talent for its two successively numbered hybrid racers. One of the cars, #7, is driven by two time Le Mans winner Alex Wurtz, along with former Sebring 12 hours winner Nicolas Lapierre and ex-F1 wheelman Kazuki Nakajima. The other is #8 piloted by three-time Le Mans pole sitter and former World Rally Championship driver Stephane Sarrazin, endurance champ Anthony Davidsion and current F1 racer Sebastien Buemi).
Although one of the prototype chassis was lost in testing, Toyota Racing remains optimistic about its chances at this year’s 24 hour race and has completed 18 days of development and testing at four different European circuits, Paul Ricard, Magny Cours, Motorland Aragon and of course Le Mans itself.
“This is a learning year,” said Team President Yoshiaki Kinoshita, “nevertheless we set ourselves high standards, so we want to prove the performance potential of the [hybrid system]. We know it is not easy to face such experienced opponents and we face a steep learning curve, but the ultimate medium target for this project is to win Le Mans, so we aim to take a big step in this direction in 2012.”
Alex Wurz added: “Le Mans racing in the last few years has become ultra competitive. We are modest enough to say that we do not expect to be winning Le Mans this year. But of course we will be pushing like crazy to get the best result with our new technology, which is part of the future.”