Everything you need to know about Le Mans Hypercar

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter
·3-min read

Toyota has been making headlines today after becoming the first company to share photos and details of its entry to the Le Mans Hypercar series.

However, if you’re wondering what exactly that means, this article will go over the basics so you know exactly what to expect when the car’s hit the track in March.

So what exactly is Le Mans Hypercar, then?

Toyota GR 010 Hybrid
(Toyota)

Essentially, it’s the new top level of endurance racing, replacing the old LMP1 cars. After Audi and Porsche ditched the competition citing rising costs, leaving Toyota to race against itself, new Hypercar regulations were drawn up to tempt manufacturers back to the World Endurance Championship through reduced costs.

What are the regulations?

To simplify, the cars are heavier and less powerful, with more design freedom so they can look more like road cars. Rather than tightly control every small aspect of the design, regulators are now focusing more on making sure the cars fit inside a small performance window. This, theoretically, will ensure close racing from cars with a wide variation of looks and design strategies.

What engines will they use?

The manufacturer can fit whatever engine it deems appropriate, which makes it easier for them to make it relevant to their road cars. However, this must be combined with a hybrid system built by Williams Advanced Engineering, and the total output cannot be more than 671bhp.

Will they be based on road cars?

Some of them will be, yes. Although it might be more accurate to say the road cars will be based on the race cars, because these will be some seriously fast road cars. For example, Toyota and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus have confirmed road versions of their racers.

Lemans Hypercar Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus
(SCG)

There has been some chopping and changing with the regulations, though, which previously stipulated that at least 25 road-legal versions based on the race car would have to be sold. However, when some race car manufacturers expressed interest in the series, this requirement was dropped.

Who’s competing?

So far four companies have confirmed their involvement, with Toyota, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and ByKolles joining this year and Peugeot aiming for 2022. Aston Martin had been planning to race a version of its Valkyrie hypercar, but has postponed entry after a slight regulation change was introduced.

Toyota is the only team to reveal its car so far. The GR010 has a 3.5-litre V6 engine and four-wheel-drive.

Toyota GR 010 Hybrid
(Toyota)

Where are they racing?

Six races are scheduled for 2021, with the first being the 1,000 Miles of Sebring in America on March 19. This is currently under threat because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, though.

Should Sebring go ahead, it will be followed by the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium and 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, followed by three six-hour races in Monza, Italy, Fuji Speedway, Japan, and Bahrain International Circuit.