Le Mans 2014 – TOYOTA PUSHES THE LIMITS OF HYBRID PERFORMANCE
TOYOTA PUSHES THE LIMITS OF HYBRID PERFORMANCE
Le Mans 2014
Toyota Racing is pushing the performance and economy limits of hybrid technology as it prepares to conquer the Le Mans 24-hour endurance classic this weekend. The team's two all-wheel-drive TS040 Hybrid race cars will be searching for maximum outright speed while carefully conserving fuel and tyres as it targets victory against strong competition from Audi and Porsche. Qualifying began on Wednesday night, but multiple accidents and stoppages led to red flags that cut the planned two-hour on-track action to just 46 minutes, preventing the Toyota Racing team from completing its planned program ahead of the two remaining qualifying sessions.
Toyota Racing arrives at Le Mans - world renowned as the most demanding sports-car race... for man and machine - with a 48-point lead in the World Endurance Championship after dominating the first two races at Silverstone (England) and Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium). Expectations are high with the two cars setting the fastest lap times in official testing at the famous 13.629km Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans on June 1. The #7 TS040 Hybrid, a fourth-place finisher last year, will be driven by Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima while the #8 car, the 2013 runner-up, will be in the hands of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi. Frenchman Lapierre relishes the opportunity to perform in front of his home crowd, describing Le Mans as the track that gives him the most pleasure as a driver.
"I know every centimetre of it and every time I come back to Le Mans it is very special," Lapierre says. "It is so specific and so different from the other circuits that you can only have special feelings. "Coming to this race as World Championship leader and having a great car this year, the logical ambition is to win. "But I also know this race is not a standard race. The Le Mans 24 Hours requires you to stay humble.
Even if we do everything well, you have to beware of the unexpected." Wurz, who has won twice at Le Mans, is determined to finish on the top step of the podium again, but knows the 24-hour race is tough and unpredictable. "Le Mans feels like nothing else you have driven before because it is ultra-high speed on average and has no real run-off areas," Wurz says. "I expect it will be a tough race, Le Mans always is, but I have high expectations."
This year is the 16th time Toyota cars have entered the Le Mans classic, the biggest prize in international sports-car racing. Over the past 15 attempts, starting in 1985, 40 separate cars have raced, with a best finish of second place on four occasions - 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2013. A true endurance event, Le Mans is more than the challenge of a 24-hour race. In total, there is almost 35 hours of driving, including practice sessions and qualifying. The race starts at 3pm (11pm European time) on Saturday June 14. After Le Mans, there are five more rounds in this year's championship: • Sept 20 Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas (USA) • Oct 12 Six Hours of Fuji (Japan) • Nov 2 Six Hours of Shanghai (China) • Nov 15 Six Hours of Bahrain • Nov 30 Six Hours of Sao Paulo (Brazil)
MOST ADVANCED HYBRID TECHNOLOGY IN RACING
Toyota's TS040 Hybrid - designed, developed and manufactured by Toyota Motorsport in Germany - is described as having the most advanced hybrid technology in racing. Maximum power has been boosted more than 18 per cent compared with last year's car while complying with new regulations that cut fuel use by 25 per cent. Combined output from the car's hybrid system has gained well over 100kW to a peak of 736kW by combining a major advance in electric power with a larger-capacity 3.7-litre V8 petrol engine.
The system takes hybrid technology to the next level, adding a motor-generator on the front axle in addition to a similar unit at the rear, allowing the system to provide power to all four wheels. A major evolution of the TS030 Hybrid that won five WEC races over the past two seasons, the latest powertrain harvests more braking energy that is stored in a super-capacitor and used under acceleration to deliver a 354kW power boost.
The development of the TS040 has highlighted the important role that testing hybrid technology in the harsh conditions of motorsport plays in improving Toyota's hybrid road cars like Prius and Camry.
Team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said the new WEC regulations - that also include reductions in maximum weight as well as improved safety - ensure endurance racing remains the most road-relevant discipline in top-level motorsport. "We are competing in order to test the latest hybrid technology in the most extreme motorsport environments, and this has a direct influence on future road-car technology," Mr Kinoshita said. "I am very proud that data, knowledge and technology pass regularly from our racing program to our research and development colleagues," he said. Know-how from Toyota's WEC motorsport program has already been used to enhance the company's hybrid road cars with more than six million hybrids sold around the world since the launch of the Prius in 1997.
The all-wheel-drive TS040 hybrid powertrain, including its normally aspirated V8 engine, was developed at Toyota's Higashi-Fuji technical centre in Japan, where next-generation Toyota road car technology is born. The move to an all-wheel-drive hybrid sees Toyota return to a concept which has been part of its hybrid racing development since 2007 when the all-wheel-drive Supra HV-R became the first hybrid to win an endurance race, the Tokachi 24 Hours. In developing the TS040, TMG engineers paid particular attention to airflow around the car, reducing drag to produce better fuel economy while increasing downforce and grip to compensate for tyres which are 50mm narrower than last year. Allowable width for the Le Mans prototype cars has been reduced by 100mm while the maximum weight is down by 45kg.
Extensive development at TMG's state-of-the-art wind tunnels has resulted in an aerodynamically efficient design which is also incredibly lightweight thanks to advanced composite design and production processes. A fuel-flow meter will monitor fuel use, with race penalties applying if the three-lap average consumption exceeds defined limits determined by Toyota Racing's decision to opt for 6MJ of hybrid capacity per lap of Le Mans.
TOYOTA TS040 HYBRID TECHNICAL INFORMATION
|Type||Le Mans Prototype (LM P1)|
|Bodywork||Carbon fibre composite|
|Gearbox||Transversal with 7 gears, sequential|
|Driveshafts||Constant velocity tripod plunge-joint driveshafts|
|Differential||Viscous mechanical locking differential|
|Suspension||Independent front and rear double wishbone, pushrod-system|
|Anti-roll bars||Front and rear|
|Brakes||Dual circuit hydraulic braking system, mono-block light-alloy brake callipers front and rear|
|Discs||Ventilated front and rear in carbon|
|Rims||Magnesium forged wheels|
|Front rims||13 x 18 inch|
|Rear rims||13 x 18 inch|
|Powertrain||TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing (THS-R)|
|Engine||90° V8 normally aspirated|
|Hybrid power||354kw (front and rear combined)|
|Maximum power||736kw (engine and hybrid)|
|Front Hybrid Motor||AISIN AW|
|Rear Hybrid Motor||DENSO|
HISTORY OF TOYOTA AT LE MANS
Toyota Racing is writing a new page in Toyota's long history in endurance racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours. A multi-national team, Toyota Racing brings together determination, innovation and ability from throughout the world with the goal of creating motorsport history with the hybrid-powered TS040 Hybrid car. Based at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany, the team has extensive experience in various forms of motorsport, including World Rally, Le Mans and Formula 1. The TS040 Hybrid chassis has been developed by TMG using advanced motorsport engineering techniques, while the cutting-edge hybrid system is the result of extensive research and development by a dedicated team at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.
The early days
The first sight of the Toyota name at Le Mans was in 1975 when a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo Toyota engine powered an entry by Sigma Automotive Co. Ltd. This first foray into the Le Mans legend ended with an oil pump problem after 37 laps.
La Sarthe saw its first Toyota car in action in 1980, when a Toyota Celica LB Turbo, originally developed to race in the German DRM series, was entered by TOM'S boss Nobuhide Tachi. Even though the car was a race winner in Europe in the late 1970s, it failed to qualify. When TOM'S returned to Le Mans in 1985, it was with the Group C car: TOM'S 85C-L Toyota. Another Toyota 85C was entered by Dome Motorsport. One of its drivers was Satoru Nakajima, the father of current Toyota Racing driver Kazuki. While the TOM'S car was unable to complete the race, the second car enjoyed a near-trouble-free race to finish 12th overall after 330 laps - the first time a Japanese car had finished at La Sarthe. Toyota now had a taste for Le Mans and a passion for endurance.
1987 to 1992
Toyota developed the 87C in 1987, the 88C in 1988 and in 1989, the boldly modified 89C-V. Although they didn't win the race, Toyota demonstrated its competitiveness at Le Mans. The next year, the company achieved its first top-six finish with the 90C-V. With the heavy revision of the technical regulations in 1991, Toyota developed the brand-new TS010. The 1992 Le Mans is remembered for Toyota going down to the wire with Peugeot, which resulted in a second place finish - Toyota's first appearance on the Le Mans podium. 1994 Turbo engines were banned in the early 1990s, returning in 1994. Toyota entrusted Team SARD for their entry in the race; however, just when victory seemed within reach, a gearbox problem denied Toyota.
1998 to 1999
Toyota did not get fully involved again until it set its sights on victory in 1998, pouring effort into developing the TS020, which pursued the limits of GT regulations. In 1999, the second year that the TS020 was entered, Ukyo Katayama, Toshio Suzuki and Keiichi Tsuchiya were closing in on the leading car and could smell victory when a tyre blow-out ruined their chances and resulted in a heart-breaking runner-up finish.
Toyota switched the focus of its racing activity to Formula One, but it returned to Le Mans in 2012 with Toyota Racing and the TS030 Hybrid, which featured the Toyota Hybrid System - Racing (THS-R). An impressive start saw the TS030 fighting at the front, reaching a pinnacle when Nicolas Lapierre in the #7 car took the lead as the six-hour mark approached. The team's joy was cut short just seconds later when Anthony Davidson in the #8 car collided with a lapped car, became airborne and crashed into the tyre barriers at the end of Mulsanne Straight where cars reach a top speed of more than 330km/h. Davidson has since recovered from two breaks to vertebrae.
An engine failure after 10-and-a-half hours forced the #7 car to retire.
This was a chaotic race that featured regularly changing weather and treacherous track conditions which contributed to 11 safety car periods and made driving extremely difficult. After a rollercoaster race, the #8 TS030 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin finished second while the #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima took fourth. The runner-up placing equals Toyota's best finishes at Le Mans in 1992, 1994 and 1999.
Toyota Racing has developed two new TS040 Hybrid cars, showcasing cutting-edge hybrid technology which delivers more power while reducing fuel consumption by 25 per cent compared with 2013. The 736kW TS040 Hybrid has won the first two rounds of the WEC season. Those victories, in six-hour races at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, give the team a 48-point lead in the eight-round World Championship, which it aims to extend at Le Mans against strong competition from Audi and Porsche. In a positive sign, the Toyota TS040 Hybrid cars set the fastest and second-fastest lap times at the official test day on June 1.