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Toyota TS050 Hybrid – ready for the challenge

4 April 2017

The new Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid made its first public appearance at the WEC prologue in Monza on the first weekend of April, the team returning with a burning mission to right the wrong, as the team sees it, of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours after the extraordinary near miss in 2016.

 

The 2017 car features a 2.4 litre V6 turbocharged petrol engine combined with 8 MJ hybrid system. Significant effort at Higashi-Fuji sees the introduction of a new engine, optimising thermal efficiency by increasing the compression ratio via development of the combustion chamber, cylinder block and cylinder head.

 

The hybrid system has also been optimised. Motor generator units (MGU) have been reduced in size and weight while the high-powered lithium-ion battery has been developed further. To complete a wide-ranging update for the new season, engineers in Cologne have optimised virtually all areas of the TS050 Hybrid chassis, working as one team with colleagues from Higashi-Fuji.

 

WEC regulations for 2017 target a reduction in aerodynamic efficiency, to increase the Le Mans lap time by several seconds for safety reasons. This is achieved by raising the front splitter by 15 mm in combination with a narrower rear diffuser.

 

Using tools such as computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnels, Toyota Gazoo Racing has modified its aerodynamic concept to meet this challenge; a raised nose and sharp undercut to the sidepods are the most noticeable modifications.

 

According to new regulations, teams are limited to two aerodynamic configurations per season, reduced from three in 2016. Tyre usage is also restricted, with each car limited to four sets, plus two spare tyres, for qualifying and six-hour races. The Toyota Gazoo team has worked with Michelin to meet this challenge, including new compounds and constructions, as well as optimising the suspension geometry to limit wear.

 

Other rule changes are designed to enhance safety. Side mirrors now need to pass a wider visibility field test while hybrid cars must display lights to indicate normal powertrain behaviour. If the green safety light is not illuminated during a race, a car will be forced to pit for repairs.

 

The 2017-specification TS050 Hybrid has already recorded over 30,000 km in testing this year, comprising five tests, at Paul Ricard, Motorland, Aragon and Portimao, and including four 30-hour endurance tests.

 

With an updated car and a driver line-up including former World Champions and multiple WEC race winners, Toyota Gazoo Racing heads to the season opener on 16 April at Silverstone with great determination, but expecting a close and exciting nine-race LMP1 battle with Porsche.

“The whole team is motivated and determined for this season,” said team president Toshio Sato. “We want to win, there is no doubt about that, but we know it will be a tough fight with Porsche. The team in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne has worked incredibly hard to update the TS050 Hybrid and the first indications are encouraging. Having a third car is an additional opportunity and we will do our best to again deliver a great spectacle for the fans at Le Mans. We know from painful experience that Le Mans is a very difficult race to win, but that is our target. Everything — the car, the team and the drivers — has to work perfectly to achieve our goal. We will see in June if we have done enough.”

 

“Although the TS050 Hybrid shares the same name as the 2016 car, its performance has been greatly improved by reviewing the powertrain and enhancing efficiency in all areas,” said Histake Murata, Racing Hybrid Project Leader. “Toyota Gazoo Racing’s biggest goal for this year, as always, is winning Le Mans. The team in Higashi-Fuji has worked ceaselessly since Le Mans last year to develop a powertrain which will deliver performance over one lap and over a full race distance, enabling us to compete at the front. This has resulted in a new engine, plus modifications to the motor generator units and battery. The first results are very encouraging but we will continue to fine-tune so we are ready.”

 

“Our 2017 TS050 Hybrid represents a significant update; the only item which is not changed is the monocoque,” said Pascal Vasselon, technical director. “At several races last year we showed the potential of our car with strong performances, but to achieve our targets we need more, so as well as big aerodynamic changes, we have optimised each area for performance and weight. What happened at Le Mans last year was painful so we gave extra attention to quality management. Zero risk doesn’t exist so we operate according to a given level of risk, which this year we have reduced. Pre-season testing has gone well in terms of performance and reliability so we feel positive but we also know we face a tough competitor.”

 

“This is a big season for Toyota Gazoo Racing in WEC and we are ready for the challenge,” said team director Rob Leupen. “The team at Higashi-Fuji and Cologne have worked in tandem to update all aspects of the TS050 Hybrid whilst also preparing for the challenge of running three cars at Spa and Le Mans. Our targets are once again very clear; we want to compete at the front and ultimately win Le Mans and the World Championship. These are ambitious targets when faced with a formidable competitor and we know we must be on top form, with no mistakes or weaknesses. We don’t race to finish second; we race to win. We embrace this challenge and working as one team will give us the best possible chance.”

VEHICLE SPECS

Type LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype – Hybrid)
Bodywork Carbon fibre composite
Windscreen Polycarbonate
Gearbox Transversal with 6 gears, sequential
Gearbox casing Aluminium
Drive shafts Constant velocity tripod plunge-joint drive shafts
Clutch Multidisc
Differential Mechanical locking type
Suspension Independent front and rear double wishbone,
pushrod-system
Springs Torsion bars
Anti roll bars Front and rear
Steering Hydraulically assisted
Brakes Callipers Dual circuit hydraulic braking system, Akebono
mono-block light-alloy brake callipers front and rear
Brake Discs Carbon ventilated front and rear
Wheels RAYS magnesium alloy
Front wheels 13 x 18 inch
Rear wheels 13 x 18 inch
Tyres Michelin radial
Front tyres 31/71-18
Rear tyres 31/71-18
Length 4650mm
Width 1900mm
Height 1050mm
Fuel capacity 62.5litres
Power train TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing (THS-R)
Engine V6 DI(direct injection) twin-turbo
Engine capacity 2.4litre
Power 368kw / 500PS
Fuel Petrol
Valves 4 per cylinder
Hybrid power 368kw / 500PS (front and rear combined)
Overall maximum power
(engine and hybrid motor)
735kw / 1000PS
Battery High-powered lithium-ion battery
Front hybrid motor AISIN AW
Rear hybrid motor DENSO

 

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