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Toyota Ready for “Wide Range” of Unexpected Situations

Toyota completes multiple simulated mechanical failures, accidents in prep for Le Mans…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing is ready for a wide range of unexpected situations in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, having completed multiple endurance tests with simulated mechanical and accident scenarios, according to technical director Pascal Vasselon.

The Japanese manufacturer, which lost out on victories at Le Mans in at least three of the last four years due to unforeseen circumstances, has focused its pre-season testing on trying to anticipate potential issues that could face its Toyota TS050 Hybrids in the race.

Vasselon revealed the simulated scenarios have ranged anywhere from battery changes to even limping the car back to the pits on three wheels, or on full electric power.

“It’s about training the team to handle an unexpected situation,” he said.

“Basically, we have sacrificed some mileage because we did not need as much mileage as years before, to train the team to handle fake problems.

“It did work quite well. I’m sure our people were not bored during the simulation sessions because they were working even harder.”

Between 20-25 different scenarios have already been simulated through multiple tests, including at last weekend’s Prologue at Paul Ricard.

“There are a wide range of things that can happen,” Vasselon said.

“We have done some laps with three wheels. It’s about recovering the car. We basically removed one wheel and asked the team to bring back the car.

“At least for those situations we have practiced for, at least the team knows what to do, which mistakes to avoid.

“Before, we had to focus first on performance because the first condition to win Le Mans was to our perform the others, especially when Audi was there. You could not rely on just reliability to do it.

“Then, [we focused on] making a fast car reliable, which we managed. Then the third step was, ‘What happens if things go wrong in an unexpected way’ and that’s where we failed.

“In the last years, we did not fail because of lack of performance; we did not fail really for a full lack of reliability; we failed in the way to handle unexpected situations, which has put the car and the team outside the normal working [conditions].

“Now we’ve come much better prepared for the third kind of item.”

While last weekend’s 30-hour simulation saw the pair of Toyotas combine to complete more than 3,600 miles with no mechanical failures, it took the time to practice several repairs.

Vasselon said it included changing the car’s battery, cooler, seats and steering wheel.

“Several times our car was coming back from its stints slow. We were testing recovery modes,” he said. “We have a range of ways to recover the cars when things failed.

“If the engine fails, we have a mode to bring back the car; if the front motor fails, we have a mode to bring back the car; if the clutch fails, like last year, we have a mode.

“We were practicing that at night, because there were only 13 cars, on the in lap.

“And it was nicely engineered as well from [Race Director] Eduardo Freitas, mentioning that car No. 7 was slow, so we could practice all these modes.

“The target at Le Mans is that nearly whatever happens, we should be able to bring the car back into the pits to repair and restart. It was one of the important tests we had here.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Harry Manback

    April 10, 2018 at 11:22 am

    But have they simulated the break of heart and pride of having a privateer with a fraction of the budget beat them?

    • Jenner

      April 10, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      We know it won’t be a DPi team that beats them.

      • wellduh

        April 10, 2018 at 11:35 pm

        Yeah, because they don’t race in the same series.

        Stupid remark.

    • TF110

      April 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      A loss is a loss regardless of who or what beats you. Heartbreak is a known thing at Toyota. It’s about time they had a taste of victory.

      • wellduh

        April 10, 2018 at 11:36 pm

        No, it’s not about time they had a taste of victory.

        They couldn’t win with equal competition, now they are up against all privateers.

        They really should be embarrassed that they are still there against weak competition.

        • Harry Manback

          April 11, 2018 at 9:04 am

          This is what I’ve been saying all along. Thank you.

          I’m not sure who is worse: Toyota Fans or Corvette Fans.

  2. AlsoBen

    April 10, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    This is what Audi were outstanding at and Toyota have finally caught up with the necessary design features and team training. When Audi won Le Mans one year after both their cars had to have turbo changes, I was left utterly gobsmacked.

    • Matt

      April 10, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      Nothing beats them changing an entire rear end in five minutes in the early 2000s with the R8. That was a 30 minute job at best until the Joest boys turned up.

      • AlsoBen

        April 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm

        I dunno, something about a team of thick nomex gloved mechanics pulling a glowing hot turbo off and getting it out again real fast still takes the biscuit in it’s own way…

    • Antonio Desmond Miles

      April 10, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      I completely agree with that. Toyota have finally realized that to win @ Le Mans, you practice for every situation you’re not prepared for. Audi were unmatched at doing that every year they won. If any manufacturer deserves a win @ Le Mans, it’s Toyota.

  3. Big Robbo

    April 10, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    They have to win this year surely? Top driver, no real factory opposition, and now they are training for any eventuality. Its not guaranteed but for their sake you hope they can do it

  4. Mike S.

    April 10, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    There is a balance of technology so they got dialed back a bit on fuel. Its not a guarantee. I wouldn’t say they are overwhelming favorite just because they have hybrid power. Its going to be a big question mark for LeMans. Are the privateer petrol engines dialed up so much that they aren’t reliable which was an issue for privateers like Rebellion and Bykolles trying to keep up with the Porsche’s/Audis and Toyotas in years past. Now overall season title Toyota should be more of a shoe in for that LeMans is going to be very up in the air.

  5. Harry Manback

    April 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    If they are expecting the unexpected… does that still make them prepared for the unexpected? Because at that point, they are only *really* prepared for the expected and it will be the unexpected unexpectedness that gets them…. just say’n.

    • WesGTR

      April 11, 2018 at 8:35 am

      These are some of the fastest, most technology packed racecars mankind has ever produced, but yeah, let’s talk semantics.

  6. Degner

    April 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I expected that the comment above would be completely unexpected… And it was.

  7. NASCAR/DPs Suck

    April 11, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    It’s really a lose lose for Toyota-win and they’ve just beaten a bunch of privateer entries with dolled up P2 cars. Lose and they’ve lost to the same lot-really sad they couldn’t convert when they had real competition on the ropes. I just hope they win and the rule reset brings in some worthy adversaries.

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