When it comes to hybrid propulsion, the first name that comes to people’s mind will always be Toyota. That being said, the brand has recently revealed its latest model to have this technology and it is not something that you get to see running beside you on the highway.
Dubbed as 2017 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, this LMP1 is based on last year’s TS050 Hybrid but has been redesigned completely that the only similarity is the basic carbon-monocoque chassis. Powering this endurance racing prototype is the twin-turbo 2.4-liter V6 engine, which when coupled to the electric motor, is capable of 8-megajoules (2.2 kWh). While it may initially appear to be the same engine as last year, this one has been redesigned from the ground up.
The engine is not the only one that experienced a modification as the entire vehicle itself has been reshaped in order to comply with the different changes on the regulations. In particular, vehicles are required to be designed to run a bit slower compared to the previous year’s model in order to improve safety. The design delivers low downforce when running at higher speeds on the circuit with the expectation of offering a higher downforce for the more technical tracks.
Officially unveiled last week at Monza, Toyota said that it will participate in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship and will even headline the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This new model’s nearest competitor would be the 919 Hybrid from Porsche considering that Audi is not likely to join and Nissan can hardly keep up. While Toyota has won the FIA World Endurance Championship back in 2014, it managed to almost get the top prize in last year’s Le Mans. Fans are expecting Toyota to give it more than the usual in order to get to the top of the podium and beat out its German rivals.
To make this possible, the brand made sure to get the best drivers behind the wheel of the new TS050. Names that have been revealed include former Formula 1 race car drivers in the likes of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kamui Kobayashi, Kazuki Nakajimi. Joining the roster as well are Stéphane Sarrazin, a veteran of the Le Mans, and Nicolas Lapierre, LMP2 champion. Yuji Kunimoto, Mike Conway, as well as touring-car champ José María López, are expected to appear as well.
The first TS050 Hybrid racing car was made specifically for the FIA World Endurance Championship under the 2016 Le Mans Prototype rules. This model was the immediate successor of the TS040 Hybrid, which is the same one the brand used for the 2014 FIA WEC and even the 2015 FIA WEC. The TS050 Hybrid was officially unveiled on March 24, 2016 at Circuit Paul Ricard. The two-year gap is mainly due to the 2-year cycle policy that Toyota follows.