Toyota changes ways with brand new car as it looks to fight back in LMP1 pecking order
Toyota Gazoo Racing is confident of a major step forward in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship with its all-new TS050 LMP1 machine.
The Japanese squad endured a torrid 2015 campaign as its titlewinning TS040 was humbled by new generation machinery from Porsche and Audi.
Having lifted the world title with the twin-kers TS040 in 2014, Toyota lagged to a distant third best behind its German rivals as the limitations of a naturally aspirated V6 engine held back performance against the turbocharged 919 Hybrid and R18 e-tron quattro.
For this year Toyota has completely changed philosophy with a car that is almost totally new. The TS050 features a 2.4-litre twin turbo V6 engine and a new lithium ion battery energy storage system, which has enabled the team to push the car into the highest 8MJ hybrid sub-class – putting it on an even footing with Porsche and a class higher than Audi.
The TS050 recovers its energy under braking from dual KERS systems and it also features an all-new frontal aerodynamics concept. The new car lapped 1.7s faster than last year’s TS040 did at Paul Ricard.
Hisatake Murata, Toyota’s engine development head, said: “We believe a V6, direct injection, twin turbo engine can achieve the best balance of power and efficiency. Combined with our move to the 8MJ class, this will give us significantly improved torque compared to the previous powertrain. It presents some challenges on weight and cooling, but the team at Higashi-fuji and Cologne has worked hard on these. I’m confident we’ve met the challenge.”
Team technical director Pascal Vasselon added: “We have changed every part [for the new car]. The aerodynamic concept has changed. There has been a progress rate in WEC so we cannot afford to have any area which is not optimised. It has been developed on that basis.”
Toyota has retained Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, with Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and newcomer Kamui Kobayashi sharing the sister car.