Toyota has launched its new Le Mans Hypercar, the GR010 Hybrid, and revealed full technical details ahead of the vehicle’s debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The successor to the triple 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1, which is taking part in the upcoming 2021 season, will be powered by a 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo engine coupled with a single electric motor generator unit on the front axle.
The frontal placement of the MGU marks the first time that Toyota has not fitted this part of the hybrid powertrain to the rear of any of its WEC prototypes.
In line with the LMH formula’s regulations, the four-wheel-drive car’s hybrid powertrain is designed to produce no more than 500 kW or approximately 680 horsepower.
The engine is capable of supplying the full 500 kW allowance when the 200 kW MGU isn’t in use. The MGU can be active when the car is traveling above 120 km/h on slick tires, between 140-160 km/h on wets and under 120 km/h on a slow in-lap.
Toyota says it has implemented a “sophisticated” electronics package that balances the engine to the MGU to ensure the car never exceeds its maximum permitted output.
The car’s exterior design is inspired by the in-development GR Super Sport road-going hypercar, which made its dynamic debut at Le Mans last year.
The GR010 Hybrid is 250 mm longer, 100 mm wider, 100 mm taller and 162 kg heavier than its TS050 Hybrid predecessor that was built to the LMP1 regulations.
Unlike the TS050 which had two distinct downforce configurations, the GR010 Hybrid will be locked into a single aero kit by the regulations while its aerodynamic qualities can be toggled by an adjustable rear wing.
The car has been jointly developed by Toyota’s race team at TGR-Europe in Cologne and the company’s hybrid powertrain department at Higachi-Fuji in Japan.
Toyota’s WEC technical director Pascal Vasselon said that creating a car to the new LMH rules has provided both sets of teams with an “interesting engineering challenge.”
“The new Le Mans Hypercar regulations mean the GR010 Hybrid is a completely new car, designed to a different philosophy,” he said.
“A major difference is the architecture of the hybrid system; we will have one kinetic energy recovery system and brake-by-wire, on the front axle.
“This means we had to install a starter motor and fully hydraulic rear brakes for the first time in our WEC project.
“Following the regulations, our car will have one bodywork specification to handle all circuits, so we needed to provide a wider working window for this car.
“These are just examples; there have been many such differences and challenges to address during development, so it has been an interesting engineering challenge.
“Now we are all looking forward to continuing our testing program and finally seeing our new car compete; I think it will be worth the wait.”
Toyota’s project leader of chassis, John Litjens, went further to explain some of the differences between the GR010 Hybrid and the TS050 LMP1 car that came before it.
The TS050 was powered by a smaller 2.4-liter V6 twin-turbo engine but carried a higher total electric power output. Both cars’ hybrid systems contain a lithium-ion battery.
Additionally, the GR010 features a seven-speed sequential gearbox, compared to the TS050’s six-speed.
“The biggest difference between the GR010 Hybrid and its predecessor is in terms of the aerodynamics,” said Litjens.
“In the past, the regulations limited what was allowed in many areas but under the LMH rules, all cars have to be within certain performance windows in terms of downforce and drag, but there is more freedom allowed for the bodywork shapes and concepts.
“There is a similar principle on the powertrain side as well, with a given power curve but a lot of freedom in terms of configuration.
“The biggest change for us here was to move to only a front motor generator unit after five years with a hybrid on both the front and rear axles. The packaging for the hybrid system was more challenging on this car because of updated safety standards.
“Additionally, the combustion engine is more powerful on the GR010 Hybrid compared to the TS050 Hybrid. So it is a very different car both in appearance and in how it sounds.”
GR010 Represents “Next Generation” of Racing Hybrid
Toyota has conducted two tests with the GR010 Hybrid, which is set to make its race debut in the 1000 Miles of Sebring WEC season-opener on March 19.
The first three-day test took place at Paul Ricard in October and was followed by a second three-day run at Portimao in October. A third test was due to take place this week at Aragon but track running was canceled because of heavy snow at the Spanish circuit.
The car’s performance will be balanced against competitor vehicles in the Hypercar class, including the non-hybrid Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH and Alpine Endurance Team’s ORECA-built LMP1.
“It is a fascinating time for endurance racing, with the new Le Mans Hypercar class, and also for Toyota Gazoo Racing, with the launch of the GR010 Hybrid,” said team president Hisatake Murata.
“This car represents our next generation of racing hybrid. During our LMP1 era, since 2012, we worked tirelessly to improve and strengthen our hybrid technology for racing.
“We set new standards with the TS050 Hybrid and our first loop of racing hybrid development is complete; this technology will be available to our future customers soon.
“Now the second stage will begin. Through our WEC participation, we will refine our racing hybrid powertrain in the GR010 Hybrid, enhance our understanding of hypercar technology and continually develop our staff.
“We do this with one clear goal: to deliver more exciting sports cars to our customers in the future.”