Toyota Gazoo Racing has confirmed that it will debut an all-new LMP1 car in next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, with the Toyota TS050 Hybrid set to feature a switch to a small displacement gasoline engine and battery storage.
The Japanese manufacturer, which has struggled this year with its TS040 Hybrid, will likely ditch the normally aspirated V8 engine and supercapacitor-based energy storage system it had utilized since the program’s inception in 2012.
“What’s clear is that we have to upgrade all areas of our car and that’s what’s in the pipeline,” technical director Pascal Vasselon told Sportscar365. “It will be a new monocoque, new bodywork, new hybrid system with a clear target to be in 8MJ, this is a must.
“[There will be] a new engine. At the moment it’s still difficult to talk about spec but for sure it will be a gasoline and probably not a V8.
“We need to go to a smaller displacement engine because the fuel quantity, fuel energy and fuel flow will drop significantly next year to keep the lap times under control.
“For all these reasons, we had to do a massive step.”
Vassleon said the decision for a complete overhaul of its LMP1 contender came shortly after the Spa round in May, when Toyota agreed to provide an increased budget for 2016.
It accelerated plans to introduce an all-new engine for next year, rather than 2017 as originally planned.
“We needed a reaction and it started from Spa onwards,” he said. “Something started to change at Spa in [Toyota] approached the setting, realizing that a step was needed in terms of resources.
“Definitely, we will have increased resources. It won’t be a major increase. We will never be close to Audi or Porsche, but for us it will be an increase that will allow us to do things that we weren’t able to do before.”
One of those possibilities could be a third entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, something that was explored for this year but ruled out for budget reasons.
“This will be evaluated and we’ll see, based on our budget level, if it’s possible to accommodate it or not,” Vasselon said. “Definitely the question will be raised, as it was last year. Right now, I don’t have an answer.”
Central to the new car will be a likely move from supercapacitors to a new battery storage system which had been in development in parallel for a number of years.
While Vasselon didn’t directly confirm the TS050 Hybrid will be outfitted with the new battery system, he admitted it’s in the pipeline.
“It’s something we’ve had in the pipeline for at least two years,” he said. “At some point we may switch from one to the other. Initially, the capacitor’s strongpoint was power density.
“In WEC, you need power and not really storage. But now the batteries are better and there has been move development gone into the batteries globally.”
Given the late confirmation of its new technical package, Vasselon said the TS050 Hybrid’s testing and development program will likely be a little late compared to previous years.
He said it would be a problem should the FIA WEC start earlier in the year, with rumors indicating a potential new season-opener for late March or early April.