Toyota’s New Hybrid Racer Is a 1,000 Horsepower Beast
- 6:30 am |
Three teams are out to dominate the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the latest entrant from Toyota boasts all-wheel drive, a screaming V8, and nearly 1,000 horsepower.
The Toyota TS040 is the follow-up to last year’s pair of Le Mans prototype racers which came in second and fourth, just behind the 12-time champs at Audi. And this year, Toyota has to compete with the most winningest Le Mans team of all time: Porsche. So it’s bringing out the big guns.
The TS040 is an evolution of the TS030, with a larger V8 punched out from 3.4 to 3.7 liters and putting out 513 horsepower to the rear wheels. But the race won’t be won on power alone. Teams can chose two, four, six, or eight megajoules of energy per lap, and Toyota has gone with the 6 MJ configuration. That means it has 25 percent less fuel to work with and had to completely revamp its hybrid drivetrain for 2014.
Two new motor-generators are fitted to the TS040, with one in the rear and another mounted on the axle between the front wheels. When the driver mashes on the brake, the motor slows the racer down, along with the brakes, and gathers energy which is then stored in a super-capacitor. When the driver gets back on the gas, the motor works in reverse, delivering power to all four wheels. The electric motor is good for 473 horsepower. Combine that with the V8, and the TS040 puts out a tire-melting 986 hp.
All that hardware is stuffed inside a new chassis and body that’s been wind tunnel-tested to lower drag and increase both grip and downforce, which will be important considering the teams are now required to wear tires that are 50mm narrower.
Like Porsche, Toyota fully intends to use the lessons learned on the track to make better, more powerful, more efficient road cars.
“As a team we learnt a lot in our first two seasons in WEC and all this know-how has gone into our new TS040 Hybrid, which is the most technologically-advanced Toyota ever to compete on the track,” says Toyota team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita. “We consider it very important that our racing program contributes to Toyota’s wider activities and I am very proud that data, knowledge and technology pass regularly from our racing program to our R&D colleagues, who are working to make great road cars of the future.”
Toyota is fielding two teams this year, with drivers Kazuki Nakajima, Stéphane Sarrazin, and Alex Wurz sharing the number 7 car, while Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre take to the track in the number 8 TS040. And all six drivers will get their second crack at shaking down the new racer today at the Paul Ricard test track before kicking off the competition at the Six Hours of Silverstone on April 20.