Toyota has launched its new endurance racer for the inaugural Le Mans Hypercar series, which dictates that a road-going version must also go on sale.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 is the first of the new Hypercar series to be revealed, which has been designed to revive top-level endurance racing by reducing costs and making cars more closely matched.
In a virtual press conference this morning, Pascal Vasselon, technical director for the race programme, explained that while the previous LMP1 regulations gave a strict set of rules that dictated design, the new rules open this aspect up.
He said: “We now have more freedom of design, so long as we stick within a strict performance window. This means the cars can have aspects of our road car designs, so also the Porsche will look like a Porsche and the Peugeot will have aspects of Peugeot road cars.”
The GR010 has a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, using a 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo engine that makes 671bhp and a 268bhp electric motor. The rules set an overall power limit of 671bhp, so the car’s electronic system reduces engine power depending on how much electric power is being used.
The engine powers the rear wheels and the electric motor powers the front, making the GR010 four-wheel-drive.
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (@TOYOTA_GR) January 14, 2021
As part of the cost-cutting, the Hypercar is 162kg heavier and has 32 per cent less power than the old LMP1 car, which is expected to contribute to lap times that are 10 seconds slower at the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans, and four or five seconds slower at a typical World Endurance Championship.
Sébastien Buemi, who will be driving the number eight car, said: “We have been waiting for this new era for a long time and finally we get to compete with our hypercar; I think it will be amazing.
“I am really pleased with the GR010 Hybrid; it feels like a very good car and it looks stunning. Actually, I was not expecting to be as fun to drive as it is; I thought it would feel like a GT car. But we learned a lot during our LMP1 era and we used that knowledge to improve the new car, so it feels like a prototype and I really enjoy driving such a fast car.
“We don’t have to save fuel anymore so we can drive flat out which makes it more like pure driving. I’m really happy.”
The first race of the 2021 World Endurance Championship is scheduled for Sebring, America, on March 19, but that is under threat because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Toyota completed its first test of the new GR010 race car at Portimao in Portugal recently. However, its testing in Aragon, Spain has been cancelled because of heavy snow in the region.
The Japanese car maker is yet to reveal the road-going version of its hypercar, but it has been shown in prototype form ahead of an expected full reveal this year.