Toyota Gazoo Racing made “more good progress” on the development of its new Le Mans Hypercar during a test at Portimao this week, according to the manufacturer’s technical director Pascal Vasselon.
Toyota put its unnamed LMH car through a three-day program at Portimao from Wednesday to Friday, building on from its initial rollout at Paul Ricard in October.
Vasselon said that while the Portuguese weather “wasn’t kind” to the team after a dry test in France, it still managed to complete a varied program with its hybrid prototype.
Toyota tested from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on each day, meaning no overnight running took place, although the sunset time just after 5 p.m. made laps in the darkness a possibility.
“We had another productive test of our new hypercar,” commented Vasselon.
“The weather here in Portugal wasn’t kind to us on Wednesday but luckily we saw the sun and decent temperatures for the remaining two days.
“We have made more good progress on our various testing tasks; our understanding of the new car’s characteristics increases with every day of running, thanks to plenty of data as well as constructive feedback from the drivers.
“We are still at an early stage of the track testing program so there is a lot of work to do before [the season starts at] Sebring but we can be satisfied with our work this week.”
Toyota test and reserve driver Nyck de Vries was involved in the work at Portimao with the Dutchman turning his first laps behind the wheel of the LMH car.
The manufacturer also brought its FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1 drivers to the test, although Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima were unavailable due to their participation in this weekend’s Super Formula final round at Fuji Speedway.
Both Japanese drivers were also absent from the Paul Ricard rollout for the same reason.
Jose Maria Lopez, who was a member of the Portimao testing group, said that Toyota is optimistic about its LMH car’s capabilities despite the short development window between now and the planned start of the 2021 WEC campaign at Sebring in March.
“We are in the very early stages of the development,” Lopez told Sportscar365.
“So far it’s pretty much adapting to new things and making them better. We don’t have much time until the next race.
“We cannot give a lot of details about it, but it’s a very nice car. The first test was already quite good for us and we managed to do a lot of miles.
“With a complicated car like this, it’s quite impressive to get that on the first time. This is on the team: they have worked on this technology for a long time and done a brilliant job.”
Toyota has so far been tight-lipped about the technical details of its car, which is due to be revealed on Jan. 11.
Alpine Gets Hands on ORECA LMP1
Alpine Endurance Team has taken delivery of the ORECA-built LMP1 chassis that it will campaign against Toyota in the WEC’s Hypercar category next season.
The Renault brand, which is teaming up with long-term partner Signatech for its foray into the WEC’s top division, shared a video on social media of the car being unloaded to the team’s headquarters in central France.
The grandfathered Oreca that Alpine is expected to rebrand under a new name is set to compete at a comparative performance level to vehicles built to the LMH regulations.
In addition to Toyota, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and ByKolles Racing are also developing LMH machinery but neither constructor has presented a full car yet.
The Alpine LMP1, which was delivered in its low-downforce aero setting, previously operated as a Rebellion R13 during its two-season stint with Rebellion Racing.
The car is set to be powered by the same 4.5-liter Gibson V8 engine that Rebellion used, while Alpine has yet to confirm a driving squad for its season entry.
The team is graduating from the LMP2 ranks where it achieved two WEC drivers’ titles and took a trio of 24 Hours of Le Mans victories with Alpine-branded, ORECA-built cars.