Image credit: Olly Stevens / SportsCarGlobal.

Toyota Gazoo Racing revealed their all-new TS050 HYBRID WEC LMP1 challenger at Paul Ricard this morning ahead of the 2016 WEC Prologue.

Virtually all of the car is new including a completely new chassis and a significant change in powertrain concept; gone is the old V8 and 6MJ super capacitor and replaced by a 2.4litre, twin-turbo, direct injection V6 petrol engine which is combined with an 8MJ hybrid system, both of which are developed by Motor Sport Unit Development Division at Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre.

When asked this morning why the team had chosen a V6 over any other configuration Hybrid Project Leader Murata-San simply replied “because I like a V6”. He then went on to explain that the team felt that a new generation turbo engine with direct injection is better suited to the current regulations which limit fuel flow to the engine, and provides opportunity to continue technology and knowledge transfer from the track to road cars.

As with their road cars, the front and rear motor-generators recover energy under braking, storing it in a high-powered lithium-ion battery (replacing the super capacitor) and releasing it as boost for maximum efficiency. The change from super capacitor to battery storage allows the TS050 HYBRID to move up to the more-powerful 8MJ hybrid class. 

The previous incarnation TS040 HYBRID was already used as a rolling test bench and contributed to current road cars. With turbo engines increasingly in use on the road, Toyota expects to use the technology and know-how from WEC to make ever-better road cars.

“Aside from some principles which have been retained to capitalise on previous years’ development, we have changed every single part.” saidTechnical Director Pascal Vasselon.

There has been a significant progress rate in WEC recently so we cannot afford to have any area of the package which is not fully optimised. The TS050 HYBRID has been developed on that basis. We want to be competitive. That is the minimum target we set ourselves – to be back in the game and competitive.”

The team also made it clear that this technology crossover between racing and road and People Development is seen as key to the success of the program overall. Engineers have been brought from the road car division in Japan to Europe to work with the race team to help broaden their knowledge; “with development of a road car typically being a 4-5 year process it’s great for those engineers to work in our environment where components may need to be developed in 4-5 weeks, this really helps to broaden thier understanding of the build process and pays dividends when they return to the road car division”.

Rob Lupen, Team Director stressed that with 2015 being “a year to forget” and that Toyota is working hard to “get more fans engaged” through the race program. He further reinforced the crossover ethos “At TMG we are delighted to welcome increasing numbers of colleagues from Japan to learn and utilise motorsport as a test bed for new technologies.

“We are continuously improving team work and this process is very positive; expertise is transferred between Cologne and Higashi-Fuji, and vice-versa, to help reach our targets in WEC. We have responded to a difficult 2015 by reinforcing our team with additional, younger faces throughout, including the driver line-up. The whole team has worked hard during the tests; we still have a long way to go but we expect to be competitive this year.”

2014 World Champions Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi are again joined by former Le Mans pole position winner Kazuki Nakajima in the #5 TS050 HYBRID while multiple Le Mans pole position winner Stéphane Sarrazin once again links up with fellow WEC race winner Mike Conway in the #6. They are joined this season by Formula 1 podium finisher Kamui Kobayashi, promoted from test and reserve driver.

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