As they Toyota mechanics pushed the new car, uncovered, up to scrutineering, we were learning of the technical changes to the Japanese manufacturer’s 2017 World Endurance Championship challenger.
Development work in Japan has been centred around the power units. The 2017 car features a 2.4litre V6 turbo-charged petrol engine combined with 8MJ hybrid system. Optimised thermal efficiency has been achieved by increasing the compression ratio via development of the combustion chamber, cylinder block and cylinder head.
The hybrid system has also been optimised. The motor generator units (MGUs) have been reduced in size and weight and the high-powered lithium-ion battery that replaced the super-conductor last year has been developed further.
The team also stated that these advancements in hybrid technology are slated to move into road-car development directly benefiting Toyota customers in the future.
To complete a wide-ranging update for the new season, engineers in Cologne have optimised virtually all areas of the TS050 HYBRID chassis, working as one team with colleagues from Higashi-Fuji.
WEC regulations for 2017 target a reduction in aerodynamic efficiency, to increase the Le Mans lap time by several seconds for safety reasons. This is achieved by raising the front splitter by 15mm in combination with a narrower rear diffuser and a raised nose and sharp undercut to the sidepods are the most noticeable modifications.
We can also see that the side mirrors now give a wider visibility field in line with updated regulations.
From our initial views of the car it appears that the air channel around / under the cockpit side is more sculpted. The air ‘vent’ from the front arch now goes to the floor. Also notable the floor appears to have a channel ahead of the rear wheel ‘pontoon’ which they clearly attempted to separate off. On the nose, the bodywork between nose and fender is now much higher and possibly deeper.
Looking at the rear bodwork, the diffuser area was a straight piece in 16, on the 2017 car it is now heavily sculpted, as are the rears of the rear fenders
“This is a big season for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in WEC and we are ready for the challenge.” saidTeam Director Rob Leupen. “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.
“Our targets are once again very clear. 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.”