MOTORING NEWS - Racing begins a new era of endurance racing with the launch of its all-new GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar, which will compete in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The reigning world champions and three-time Le Mans winners will defend their titles against new manufacturer competitors using the racing version of Toyota's upcoming hypercar road car.
Team President Hisatake Murata said WEC participation under the new Racing Hybrid branding would enhance Toyota's understanding of hypercar technology and help deliver more exciting sportscars to customers.
"The GR010 HYBRID is a preview of our road-going cars," he said. "What we learn on the WEC racetracks will directly benefit our customers."
Team driver Brendon Hartley from New Zealand said the GR010 HYBRID previews a car that customers will soon experience on the road. "Endurance racing has always been a proving ground for new technology and now it is even more road-car relevant," he said.
The GR010 HYBRID prototype racer was developed over the past 18 months by engineers at the team's headquarters in Cologne, Germany, and the electric hybrid powertrain experts at Toyota's Higashi-Fuji technical centre in Japan.
It incorporates a powerful four-wheel-drive racing hybrid powertrain, with a 3.5-litre V6 twin turbo engine, providing 500kW to the rear wheels and combining with a 200kW motor generator unit, developed by AISIN AW and DENSO, on the front axle.
Total output is capped at 500kW, meaning the GR010 HYBRID's sophisticated electronics reduce engine power according to the amount of hybrid boost deployed.
The striking new look of the racing prototype reflects the appearance of its inspiration, the GR Super Sport hypercar, which made its public debut with a demonstration run at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours and is currently in development.
To mark this new era for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, a fresh livery includes the iconic GR lettering to indicate the strong link between race and road cars.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing enters its ninth season in WEC with the same driver line-up which brought Le Mans and World Championship glory to the team in the 2019-2020 campaign.
Newly crowned world champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López will drive the #7 GR010 HYBRID while Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley will race with the #8 car. Nyck de Vries continues in his role as test and reserve driver. They have already started an intense program of developing the GR010 HYBRID, with three three-day tests already completed as the team adapts to new regulations which are a significant shift in terms of performance and philosophy.
As part of cost-cutting initiatives incorporated in WEC regulations, the new GR010 HYBRID is 162kg heavier and has 32% less power than its TS050 HYBRID predecessor, with Le Mans lap times expected to be around 10 seconds slower.
It also has larger dimensions: 250mm longer, 100mm wider and 100mm higher.
For the first time since the beginning of its WEC project in 2012, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will participate without a rear motor generator unit (MGU), with the single permitted MGU located on the front axle. This means a starter motor and fully hydraulic rear brakes must be fitted to the GR010 HYBRID.
The new racer features state-of-the-art aerodynamics, optimised for efficiency, and developed using powerful Computational Fluid Dynamics software and wind-tunnel testing. The new technical regulations permit only a single homologated bodywork package, with only one adjustable aerodynamic device. The GR010 HYBRID will therefore compete in the same specification at both low and high downforce circuits, with an adjustable rear wing modifying the aerodynamic characteristics.
For the first time, the top class of WEC and Le Mans will feature a balance of performance, allowing organisers to modify the performance of each car in a bid to ensure identical performance potential from each Le Mans Hypercar. That should ensure close racing between TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and its hypercar competitors.
Those battles will be fought over six races on three continents, beginning with the 1000 Miles of Sebring on 19 March prior to the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on 1 May and the season highlight, the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 12-13 June.
The first world championship endurance race in Monza since 1992 takes place on 18 July before trips to Fuji Speedway on 26 September and Bahrain on 20 November, all of which are six-hour contests.