By Steve & Tamami Laser
As three-time Le Mans winners and the reigning World Champions, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is preparing to compete in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with its all-new GR010 HYBRID prototype racer.
Dubbed a racing version of TGR’s upcoming hypercar for the street, the new GR010 HYBRID employs hybrid powertrain technology from its predecessor TS050 HYBRID, while gaining new Racing Hybrid branding.
During the past 18 months, the new GR010 HYBRID has been under development by a team of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing engineers in Cologne, Germany, and in Higashi-Fulji, Japan with electric hybrid powertrain specialists.
“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,” said Hisatake Murata, Team President. “We do this with one clear goal: to deliver more exciting sportscars to our customers in the future.”
This video, from the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe YouTube channel, highlights the launch of the new GR010 HYBRID Hypercar, set to compete in the 2021 FIA WEC. (video: TGR Europe)
The bold design of the latest racing prototype is said to reflect the look of its inspiration, the GR Super Sport hypercar, that made its public debut during a demo run and ceremonial trophy return at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours (above). The road car is currently in development, and we expect to hear more about it from TGR, in the months ahead.
Watch the new GR010 HYBRID take to the track in this second video, where we see the prototype hypercar being tested at Algarve International Circuit, in Portimão, Portugal. (video: TGR Europe)
The GR010 is powered by a racing hybrid four-wheel-drive system, featuring a 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo engine, providing 680PS for the rear wheels, combined with a 272PS motor generator, on the front axle, developed by AISIN AW and DENSO. Total output is said to be capped at 500kW (680PS), which means the GR010’s sophisticated electronics reduce engine power according to the amount of hybrid boost deployed.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing starts its ninth WEC season with the drivers who delivered Le Mans and World Championship victories in the 2019-2020 season. World Champs Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López are scheduled to drive the #7 GR010 HYBRID. Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Brendon Hartley race with the #8 car, while Nyck de Vries continues as reserve and test driver.
TGR says the team has begun an intense development program for the GR010 HYBRID. Two, three-day tests have been completed as the they adapt to new regulations. As part of a cost-reduction initiative in the regulations, the GR010 HYBRID is 162kg heavier and with 32 percent less power than the TS050 HYBRID. It’s also 250mm longer, 100mm wider, and 100mm higher. Le Mans lap times are expected to be approximately 10 seconds slower.
According to TGR, for the first time since the beginning of its WEC project, it will participate without a rear motor generator unit (MGU) on a prototype racer, with a single permitted MGU on the front axle. Thus, a starter motor must be fitted to the GR010 HYBRID, while fully hydraulic rear brakes are also required.
The GR010 HYBRID features aerodynamics developed via Computational Fluid Dynamics software along with wind tunnel testing. New technical regulations permit only a single homologated bodywork package, with one adjustable aerodynamic device. GR010 will compete in the same specs at low and high downforce circuits, with an adjustable rear wing modifying the aerodynamics.
TGR says that also for the first time, the top WEC class and Le Mans will feature a balance of performance, meaning organizers will modify the performance of each car on a race-by-race basis, regulating energy usage and weight, targeting identical performance potential from each Le Mans Hypercar.
Six races are planned for 2021, starting with the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 19, followed by the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 1, and the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 12-13. The first World Championship endurance race in Monza, since 1992, is scheduled for July 18. Trips to Fuji Speedway (Sept. 26), and Bahrain (Nov. 26), follow, which are six-hour races.
For more information visit TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
Note: Racing schedules are subject to change without notice
News source and photos courtesy Toyota Gazoo Racing Co., and Toyota Motor Corp.; videos courtesy Toyota Motorsport GmbH
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