Toyota aims to win LeMans with hybrid car

Toyota will enter two LMP1 cars at LeMans, seen here at the recent test day

TOYOTA Racing will write a new chapter in the history of hybrid motorsport next week when it takes part in the 80th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours on the La Sarthe circuit in France.

Using a ground-breaking hybrid powertrain, the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing (THS-R), which was developed specifically for motorsport by TOYOTA, the team’s TS030 HYBRID cars will compete in the elite LMP1 class.

This represents the culmination of an intense preparation period for the team, during which this new technology has been tested and refined for one of motorsport’s ultimate challenges; the Le Mans 24 Hours.

During this time, the team has decided to implement a DENSO rear hybrid motor situated within the gearbox casing. Energy is recovered under braking and stored in super capacitors, located in the cockpit, to provide additional boost on corner exit, up to the regulatory maximum of 500Kj between braking zones.

While the hybrid powertrain has been produced by the Motor Sport Division of TOYOTA Motor Corporation at Higashifuji in Japan, the TS030 HYBRID chassis has been developed and manufactured by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany. TMG also provides the team’s home base and on-track personnel.

Since its first drive on 13 January, the TS030 HYBRID has completed 18 testing days predominantly 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, as well as the loss of one monocoque in a testing accident, progress has been rapid and TOYOTA Racing goes to Le Mans aiming to continue this development whilst simultaneously proving the performance potential of its THS-R system.

A talented driver line-up mixes proven Le Mans experience, natural speed, consistency and strong team spirit.

The #7 car features two-time winner Alex Wurz (Austria), former Sebring 12 Hours winner Nicolas Lapierre (France) and ex-Formula 1 driver Kazuki Nakajima (Japan).

In the #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).

Action begins on Wednesday 13 June with practice (16.00-20.00 local time) and first qualifying (22.00-00.00) followed on the following day by second qualifying (19.00-21.00) and final qualifying (22.00-00.00). Following a Saturday morning warm-up (09.00-09.45) the race begins at 15.00.

The ceremonial flag-waving to officially start the race will be carried out by Takeshi Uchiyamada, Executive Vice President of TOYOTA Motor Corporation, hybrid pioneer and the man responsible for the TOYOTA Prius.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “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. TOYOTA is a pioneer in the field of hybrid technology so TOYOTA Racing benefits from this immense experience and knowledge. This is a new technology in motorsport terms so there are many things to learn and develop, but Hisatake Murata and his hybrid project team, as well as the hybrid vehicle development division at TOYOTA Motor Corporation, have been working on these systems in racing for several years already. This gives us a unique knowledge which we hope to demonstrate. At the same time, TMG has been developing the TS030 HYBRID chassis with a team led by John Litjens. They have put all our knowledge or aerodynamics, simulation and systems into this car and we are really proud of the result."

The No. 7 car will be driven by Wurz, Nakajima and Lapierre

Alex Wurz, Car #7: “I have always had a fascination for sportscar racing and I have been a fan of Le Mans since my childhood. Each year you come, you feel a bit like Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans. It is a special race, a very heroic one and Le Mans racing in the last few years has become ultra-competitive. If you only look at the race results, you are fighting for 100ths of a second every lap because sometimes after 24 hours the cars are only a few seconds apart. If you break that down over 24 hours you understand how competitive the racing environment is. We are facing extremely strong competition from teams that have grown into this environment and 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."

Nicolas Lapierre, Car #7: “Le Mans is one of the most exciting events in the world for me; from a driver's point of view but also as a Frenchman. There are so many fans here! This year is going to be really interesting and exciting to arrive with this new hybrid technology. I am very happy with my team-mates Alex and Kazuki. We have a great relationship. I knew both of them a little bit before but working with them closely together is a real pleasure. Also I am very proud to be here with TOYOTA Racing, which is a fantastic team. Since we started testing in January, I know everyone in the team more and more, as well as developing a shared method of work. I have to say that I very much enjoy the way of working at TOYOTA Racing."

Kazuki Nakajima, Car #7: “Already during the test day you can feel that the Le Mans 24 Hours is very special; there are so many spectators on site. Of course many more people will come for the race weekend. For me it is going to be exciting to participate in this event for the first time. I am sure that you perform well if you enjoy yourself and I do enjoy driving on this track, being with my team and my co-drivers. All of us will do our utmost to maximize our performance. My favorite part of the track is the Porsche corners although I am still learning how quick you can go through the chicane and how quick you can run over the curbs."

The No. 8 car will be driven by Sarrazin, Davidson and Buemi

Stephane Sarrazin, Car #8: “It is still a race that makes me dream. I have finished on the podium and some years I was on the way to win but Le Mans decided otherwise. It might be the only race where you have this feeling; the race decides its winner. You can prepare everything as best as you can but you need to have success on your side at Le Mans. All has to fit well on the big day, all the elements must be united; the team and the car have to be perfect. It doesn't matter the joy or the disappointment I had here in the past, Le Mans is still magic and there are some aspects which have a unique flavor. I am proud to have been on pole position three times at Le Mans. Everybody says pole is not a priority for a 24-hour race, but this is a unique feeling and something that increases the motivation of the whole team."

Anthony Davidson, Car #8: “For a driver, and for a team in fact, Le Mans is a challenge like no other. In the race we have to find a good pace during the night as well as managing the traffic, which is always tricky here. Le Mans is difficult physically, but also mentally with the pressure and how huge this event is. 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."

Sebastien Buemi, Car #8: “I am impatient to be there at the start of this famous race; this feeling only grew during the test day when I discovered that the track is really a superb one. I like the last part, with the Porsche curves and Ford corners. There is also an emotional connection to this race because my grandfather already raced here and I am glad to follow in his footsteps. My family is also tied to the TOYOTA brand, so it is special. My first experience during the Le Mans test was positive and I am now looking forward to discover the atmosphere during the race week, with the scrutineering in downtown, the night qualifying session, the parade; I think I will have an interesting and exciting week. I want my first Le Mans to be a happy memory for me, especially with the new hybrid technology developed by TOYOTA."

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