Much anticipated re-entry in Le Mans Toyota is the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Racing Championship with a hybrid vehicle. The new team that is based out of Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany will make its on track debut on May 5, 2011 in Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the World Endurance Racing Championship, with their THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System Racing) TS030 car. The company intends to use the same car in the 24 hours of Le Mans later in the year.The THS-R powertrain of the TS030 features an all-new 3.4-litre V8 petrol engine and also a hybrid system with capacitor storage. Having tested the new TS030, the data from the test will help further developments on the car. The car was tested by Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Hiroaki Ishiura. “Just leaving the garage on the electric power is very futuristic; then when you let the clutch go and the internal combustion engine kicks in it is like an old friend has returned,” Alex said, after his first stint behind the wheel of the TS030.
“Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain. Hybrid is a core technology of Toyota so it is important to demonstrate this in a motorsport arena and we want to prove it can bring a performance advantage, both in terms of lap time and fuel efficiency,” said Team President Yoshiaki Kinoshita.
The company will field two cars in 2012 and Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima have been confirmed as the drivers for one car, while it’s yet to name the drivers for the second car.
Toyota made its FIA World Endurance Championship debut in 1983 and have participated in 13 24 hours of Le Mans events with 36 cars. The TS010 and TS020 were used in 1998 and 1999 respectively, the team’s last two years in the championship. TS stands for ToyotaSport.
The team had a good run in qualifying, with Martin Brundle on pole position in 1999, but they could not capitalise on it, just one car taking the chequered flag. Despite finishing in second place, the team withdrew from Le Mans with the intention to shift its focus to Formula 1.
Although Toyota hasn’t had a great record in terms of statistics in Le Mans , they have managed three podium finishes, and four front row starts, including a pole position. Making a comeback after 12 years, they are a team the competitors will keep tabs on.