Toyota plots raid on Le Mans
A SUPER Prius will race at Le Mans in June. The new hybrid hero is not technically part of the Prius family, but Toyota is using its TS 030 and a 320km/h laboratory-on-wheels as a way to break down barriers against future cars.
Toyota is not planning to win in France this year but does intend to lay the foundations for future success with a two-car coupe entry in full factory colours.
But it will not be the only hybrid contender in June, as Audi has confirmed plans to race a pair of dieselelectric versions of its latest R18 in a four-car effort.
It is believed to use a flywheel, similar to the Williams F1 system already used by Porsche in a racing 911, for energy storage.
The new Toyota 030 is also a full hybrid that com- bines a 3.4-litre V8 racing engine with an energy storage system to boost power to electric motors at the wheels.
The biggest difference between the road and race cars is the storage system— a Prius uses a battery pack and the Toyota racer uses a hi-tech capacitor that has greater storage potential.
‘‘The first year is a testing year, but at the same time, the whole team, including myself, has massive motivation,’’ says Kazuki Nakajima, a former Williams F1 driver who heads the driver line-up for Le Mans.
The 030 hybrid has already been tested extensively but Toyota says it is still assessing the potential drive system.
The Toyota 030 hybrid races for the first time at Spa in Belgium in May and, apart from Nakajima, the six-driver line-up includes former F1 racer Alex Wurz.