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Toyota TS030 Hybrid (2012) first pics of new Le Mans racer

Wed, 25 Jan 2012

Toyota has unveiled its new Le Mans challenger, the TS030 Hybrid. The TS030 name designates this car as the successor to the TS010 and TS020 (better known at the GT-One) which competed at Le Mans in the 1990s – TS stands for Toyota Sport.

What? This Toyota TS030 is a hybrid racecar?

That’s right – and would you expect anything less from a company that’s been at the forefront of producing hybrid road cars? The engine is a 90-deg V8 with a 3.4-litre capacity, the maximum allowed for naturally aspirated petrol engines under Le Mans rules.

Toyota is currently testing two hybrid packs, a front-mounted AW Aisin unit and a rear-mounted Denso motor. A maximum of 500kJ of energy can be recovered (it’s stored in a Nisshinbo super capacitor) but it can only be deployed through one axle.

Toyota’s Motor Sport Division in Japan produces the hybrid powertrain, while Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Germany builds the carbonfibre chassis. The bodywork is also carbonfibre, the windscreen is built from lightweight polycarbonate, the gearbox is a transverse-mounted six-speed sequential unit, suspension is by double wishbones with pushrods, the brakes are carbon and the 18in wheels are forged from magnesium.

What else?

The TS030 has just completed a three-day roll-out test session – that included running in darkness – with all three drives having time behind the wheel. Toyota’s driver line-up is Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima, but three more drivers will be added as Toyota will race two TS0303s at Le Mans.

Peugeot was experimenting with a hybrid 908 before it closed its Le Mans programme last week, while Audi (whose diesel-powered LMP1 cars have dominated at La Sarthe for the past few years) has admitted that its current R18 TDI has been future-proofed to take an electrified powertrain.

The TS030 will continue to test over the coming months, and will makes its race debut on 5 May at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Toyota won’t run a full race programme in 2012, but it will compete at Le Mans on 16-17 June, and at its home race at Fuji Speedway on 14 October.

Click on the video below to watch Alex Wurz lap Paul Ricard in the new Toyota TS030

By Ben Pulman