Toyota’s GR010 Le Mans Hypercar makes its debut

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Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota has finally unveiled its 2021 WEC car, dubbed the GR010 Hybrid, built to the now current Le Mans Hypercar regulations.

The car has been under development for the past 18 months, with engineers from both the team’s HQ in Cologne, Germany, and Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji facility in Japan developing the chassis, engine and hybrid system. The team has already undertaken two three-day tests with the new machine, in preparation for the start of the 2021 season.

Though having clear visual similarities to the outgoing TS 050 LMP1, the new car is, by regulation, 162kg heavier and 32% less powerful than its predecessor. As a consequence of this, its Le Mans lap times are expected to be around 10 seconds slower than 2020 pace (c.3min 25 sec). The car is also larger; 250mm longer, 100mm wider and 100mm higher.

For the first time since the beginning of its WEC project, Toyota will run a car without a rear motor generator unit (MGU), with only a single MGU permitted, located on the front axle. Notably, this means a starter motor must be fitted and fully hydraulic rear brakes are also required as there will be no rear motor to provide braking effort.

The GR010’s 3.5-liter V6 twin turbo engine will put out 680bhp to the rear wheels, combined with a 272bhp motor generator unit, developed by long term partners Aisin AW and Denso, on the front axle. However, the rules cap total output at 500kW (680ps), meaning the control electronics will reduce engine power according to the amount of hybrid boost deployed, in order to remain under this limit.

The new technical regulations also only permit a single homologated bodywork package, Pascal Vasselon, the team’s technical director commenting, “The new regulations mean the GR010 Hybrid is a completely new car, designed to a different philosophy. Following the regulations, our car will have one bodywork specification to handle all circuits, so we needed to provide a wider working window for this car. There have been many such differences and challenges to address during development, so it has been an interesting engineering challenge. Now we are all looking forward to continuing our testing programme and finally seeing our new car compete; I think it will be worth the wait.”

However, as John Litjens, project leader – chassis, noted, the rules have provided the team’s engineers greater freedom in some areas: “The biggest difference between the GR010 and its predecessor is in terms of the aerodynamics. In the past, the regulations limited what was allowed in many areas but under the Le Mans Hypercar rules, all cars have to be within certain performance windows in terms of downforce and drag, but there is more freedom allowed for the bodywork shapes and concepts.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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