Toyota has taken the wraps off its updated LMP1 challenger, the TS050 Hybrid, which will make its competition debut in next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Silverstone.
After rolling out with an all-new car last year, the Japanese manufacturer has opted for an evolutionary step, retaining the same monocoque and powertrain configuration, but with new and optimized components.
The TS050 Hybrid’s 2.4-liter V6 turbo gasoline engine is all new, with an increased compression ratio due to further development of the cylinder block, head and combustion chamber.
Its two energy recovery systems, meanwhile, have been reduced in size and weight, with strides made to the lithium-ion batteries, providing more than 1,000 horsepower total between the combustion engine and hybrid system.
The car remains in the 8MJ hybrid subclass, the maximum allowed in the current LMP1 regulations, which have been frozen until 2019.
FIA-mandated safety-related aerodynamic changes for all LMP1 cars, however, has seen the TS050 Hybrid sport a raised nose, with a 15mm taller front splitter, as well as undercuts to the sidepods, both aimed to reduce aero efficiency.
A class-wide limitation from three to two aero kits per season has resulted in Toyota debuting its Le Mans low-downforce package first, which it is expected to be used in the opening round at Silverstone.
The car has already completed more than 18,000 test miles between five seperate tests, including four 30-hour endurance runs, prior to this weekend’s official pre-season Prologue test at Monza.
“Our 2017 TS050 Hybrid represents a significant update; the only item which is not changed is the monocoque,” said technical director Pascal Vasselon.
“At several races last year we showed the potential of our car with strong performances. But to achieve our targets we need more, so as well as big aerodynamic changes, we have optimized each area for performance and weight.”
After coming less than ten minutes short of an elusive victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota will enter three LMP1 entries for the first time, in a bid to become only the second Japanese manufacturer to win the endurance classic.
Three-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez joins the squad as a new full-season driver alongside Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7 car, with Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima to share driving duties of the No. 8 Toyota.
Reigning Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto and Toyota returnee Nico Lapierre will join team veteran Stephane Sarraazin in the No. 9 entry for the Six Hours of Spa and Le Mans.
“The team at Higashi-Fuji and Cologne have worked in tandem to update all aspects of the TS050 Hybrid whilst also preparing for the challenge of running three cars at Spa and Le Mans,” said team director Rob Leupen.
“Our targets are once again very clear; we want to compete at the front and ultimately win Le Mans and the World Championship.
“These are ambitious targets when faced with a formidable competitor and we know we must be on top form, with no mistakes or weaknesses. We don’t race to finish second; we race to win. We embrace this challenge and working as one team will give us the best possible chance.”