Toyota Racing will write a new chapter in the history of hybrid motorsport
next week when it takes part in the 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The
team is fielding two TS030 HYBRID cars in the elite LMP1 class, equipped with
Toyota's new THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System - Racing) powertrain, developed
specifically for motorsport.
The race will mark the culmination of an intense period of preparation, during
which the new technology has been tested and refined ready to take on one of
motorsport's greatest challenges.
A key decision has been to fit a Denso rear hybrid motor within the gearbox
casing. The car also makes good use of regenerative braking, with energy
recovered and stored in super capacitors, located in the cockpit. This can then
be used to provide extra boost on the exit from corners (up to 500Kj between
braking zones, as dictated by competition rules).
The hybrid powertrain has been produced by the Toyota's motorsport division at
Higashifuji in Japan, and the TS030 HYBRID chassis has been developed and
manufactured by Toyota Motorsport (TMG) in Cologne, Germany. TMG is the team's
home base and also provides the on-track personnel.
Since it first turned a wheel on 13 January, the TS030 HYBRID has completed 18
test days, most of them at Paul Ricard in France, but also at MotorLand Aragon
(Spain), Magny-Cours (France) and Le Mans itself.
Despite the challenges of optimizing such new technology, and the loss of one
chassis in a testing accident, progress has been rapid and Toyota Racing heads
for Le Mans with the aim of continuing its development program while at the same
time proving the performance potential of the THS-R system.
The environmental dimension of Toyota Racing's participation at Le Mans will be
further supported by Yamaha Motor Europe, which will be providing 16 EC-03
electric scooters for team use in the race paddock. This partnership sees Yamaha
become an official supplier to Toyota Racing.
A talented driver line-up mixes proven Le Mans experience, natural speed,
consistency and strong team spirit.
The number 7 car features two-time winner Alex Wurz (Austria), former Sebring 12
Hours winner Nicolas Lapierre (France) and ex-Formula 1 driver Kazuki Nakajima
In the number 8 car, three-time Le Mans pole position winner Stéphane Sarrazin
(France) joins multiple endurance winner Anthony Davidson (Great Britain) and
Formula 1 young gun Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland).
Davidson acknowledges the scale of the challenge but is fired up to do well: "To
succeed here you need to be on top form, it's as simple as that. The test day
gave us plenty of encouragement and we have to continue in this direction in
order to be well prepared for the race. I am a positive and realistic guy; I
hope we will have the car to fight at the front but I also know that 2012 is our
first year so we have many things to learn."
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President, said: "This is a learning year for Toyota
Racing but nevertheless we set ourselves high standards, so we want to prove the
performance potential of the hybrid system and the TS030 HYBRID.
"We know it is not easy to face such experienced opponents and we face a steep
learning curve, but the ultimate medium-term target for this project is to win
Le Mans so we aim to take a big step in this direction in 2012."
Action begins on Wednesday 13 June with practice (4 to 8pm local time) and first
qualifying (10pm to midnight) followed on the following day by second qualifying
(7 to 9pm) and final qualifying (10pm to midnight). Following a Saturday morning
warm-up (9 to 9.45am) the race begins at 3pm.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor
Corporation and the hybrid power pioneer responsible for the Toyota Prius, has
the honor of the ceremonial flag-waving to get the race under way.