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Hybrid race car the TS040 did Toyota proud at its inaugural track outing against competitors Audi and Porsche, Toyota New Zealand motorsport manager Steve Boyce says. The advanced petrol electric hybrid placed fourth fastest overall in official test sessions at Circuit Paul Ricard in France on March 29-31.
The TS040 will compete in the 2014 FIA World Endurance championship over eight rounds including the tough 24-hour Le Mans.
Mr Boyce says he was delighted to see the TS040 was “immediately competitive”.
“The championship is attracting significant manufacturer support and media interest as its profile grows and Toyota is entering its fourth season with the most advanced petrol/electric hybrid race car in the sport,” Mr Boyce says. “In contrast to other manufacturers which use diesel-electric power plants, Toyota has opted to develop its race-winning petrol-electric hybrid drive technology. The TS040 has 353 kW (473 bhp) of four-wheel-drive hybrid (electric) boost in addition to its 382 kW (512 bhp) 3.7litre petrol engine.”
The new car also features four wheel drive, returning to a drive layout that made its racing hybrid debut in 2007 when the four-wheel drive Supra HV-R became the first hybrid to win an endurance race, the Tokachi 24 Hours.
New WEC technical regulations for the 2014 championship place increased emphasis on fuel economy, requiring a 25 per cent reduction in fuel use compared to 2013. A fuel flow meter will monitor fuel usage and penalties will be applied in the race if the three-lap average consumption exceeds defined limits. The fuel allowance is determined by the level of hybrid capacity each team commits to.
The new open regulations have allowed Toyota Racing to implement a major increase in hybrid power, with an AISIN AW motor-generator on the front axle added to the DENSO unit on the rear.
“Toyota has achieved savings through powertrain, aerodynamics and driving style efficiencies.Under deceleration, the motor-generators apply braking force in combination with traditional mechanical brakes to harvest energy. During acceleration, the motor/generator reverses its function, acting as a motor to deliver a 480PS power boost.”
That four-wheel-drive hybrid power is allied to a normally-aspirated V8 engine developed by the Motor Sports Unit Development Division at Toyota’s Higashifuji technical centre where next-generation Toyota road car technology is born. Know-how from 2013’s TS030 hybrid race car is already in use to enhance Toyota’s road car hybrids and the WEC’s focus on road-relevant technology is expected to see further technology transfer from track to road. Toyota has already sold six million hybrid road cars since the launch of the Prius in 1997.
The TS040’s chassis is an evolution of the outgoing TS030 and embraces regulation changes which reduce maximum car width by 10cm, reduce tyre width by five cm and introduce new safety requirements. Particular attention has been paid to airflow around the car to reduce drag and increase downforce. Extensive development in TMG’s state-of-the-art wind tunnels has resulted in an aerodynamically-efficient lightweight design using advanced composite design and production processes. Race simulation and calculation work at TMG has refined the TS040, using ‘hardware-in-the-loop’ technology to test individual components based on real track data and powerful calculation computers to optimise designs.
A reshuffle of the TS040 driver line-up sees Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima share the #7 car while Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi are in #8.
The TS040 made its track debut at Paul Ricard on 21 January and has subsequently completed 12 days of testing across Europe, covering around 18,000km.
Team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita says Toyota Racing is looking forward to its third season in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“As well as meeting the challenge of new regulations which make endurance racing the most road-relevant discipline in top-level motorsport, we are looking forward to competing with Porsche. As a team we learned a lot in our first two seasons in WEC and all this know-how has gone into our new TS040, which is the most technologically-advanced Toyota ever to compete on the track. We consider it very important that our racing programme contributes to TOYOTA’s wider activities and I am very proud that data, knowledge and technology pass regularly from racing to our R&D colleagues, who are working to make great road cars of the future.”
At the World Endurance Championship’s first official test session last week at Circuit Paul Ricard Toyota’s Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima were a solid fourth fastest overall in car #7.
Meanwhile, former Toyota Racing Series driver Kiwi Brendon Hartley was outright fastest across all sessions in the Porsche 919 he will share with former Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Webber. In the Friday track sessions he posted a 1:41.289 to complete a Porsche lock-out of the top three time slots. Hartley was .499 seconds faster than his Porsche team-mate Timo Bernhard (1:41.788) with Mark Webber third on 1:41.929. All three drivers are running in car #20.
The 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship begins with the Six Hours of Silverstone in Great Britain on April 20.
2014 FIA World Endurance Championship Calendar:
20 April Six Hours of Silverstone (Great Britain)
3 May Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
14 June Le Mans 24 Hours (France)
20 September Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas (USA)
12 October Six Hours of Fuji (Japan)
2 November Six Hours of Shanghai (China)
15 November Six Hours of Bahrain
30 November Six Hours of Sao Paulo (Brazil)