You’ve heard it drive in anger on the race track. You’ve seen blurry and out of focus photos and video of it. At long last, it’s finally time to take the covers of TOYOTA Racing’s new 2014 contender for the FIA World Endurance Championships and Le Mans 24 Hours, the TS040 HYBRID. Click through the break for all the latest from the unveiling and the following FIA WEC Prologue official test.
Updated: 27/03/14 12:00 CET
We’re at Circuit Paul Ricard and the TOYOTA Racing TS040 HYBRID was just unveiled to our invited journalists. The headlines: TOYOTA Racing’s 2014 contender represents the most advanced hybrid technology in motorsport. The TS040 HYBRID’s 3.7-litre normally-aspirated V8 engine produces 520PS while the hybrid boost comes in at 480PS giving the new race car a maximum power of 1,000PS.
Moving to a four-wheel drive system sees the team return to a concept that has been part of Toyota’s racing hybrid development since 2007 when the Supra HV-R became the first hybrid to win an endurance race, the Tokachi 24 Hours.
The new TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing powertrain has been developed specifically for the revised WEC technical regulations which focusses on fuel economy with a 25% reduction in fuel usage compared to last season. Fuel savings will be achieved through powetrain, aerodynamics and driving style differences.
Penalties will be applied if the three-lap average fuel consumption, monitored by a fuel flow metre, exceeds defined limits. The fuel levels are determined by the level of hybrid capacity each team commits to, and for us, that’s 6MJ of hybrid capacity per lap at Le Mans.
The new regulations, which are more open, have allowed TOYOTA Racing to achieve a major increase in hybrid power with the motor-generator on the front axle complementing the unit on the rear.
Under deceleration, the motor-generators apply braking force together with mechanical brakes to harvest energy. The energy is then transferred via the invertor to the super-capacitor. When the driver accelerates, the motor-generator reverses its function to deliver the 480PS power boost out of the corners.
The normally-aspirated V8 engine as well as the four-wheel drive hybrid have both been developed by Toyota’s Motor Sports Unit Development Division at our Higashifuji Technical Centre. This is also where the next-generation of our road car technology is born. Already, the experience gained from the TS030 HYBRID over the last two years are being used to enhance Toyota’s road car hybrid, fitting in perfectly with WEC’s focus on road-relevant technology.
The TS040 HYBRID chassis is designed, developed, manufactured, built and operates by Toyota Motorsport GmbH, based in Cologne, Germany. The airflow around the car, to both reduce drag in order to improve fuel economy and to increase downforce, and grip, has been given particular attention. In particular, the downforce levels will have to compensate for tyres which are 5cm narrower compared to last year.
With TMG’s state-of-the-art wind tunnels, the team has been able to create an aerodynamically-efficient design, while also being incredibly lightweight with advanced composite design and production processes.
Cutting-edge techniques, such as TMG’s intensive simulation and calculation work using hardware-in-the-loop technology to test individual components using real track data to optimise designs, are more efficient than track testing. These processes allow TMG’s engineers to continue optimising all aspects of the TS040 HYBRID chassis and layout for longer than traditional methods.
In case you missed the announcement earlier last month, TOYOTA Racing slightly reshuffled the driver line-up with Nicolas Lapierre and Stéphane Sarrazin swapping cars. The shuffle is designed to maximise the chances of success for each car.
The FIA WEC Prologue official test days start tomorrow at 09:00 CET through to 21:00 CET. Keep checking back for the latest from Paul Ricard.
Here’s some footage we captured during a test earlier this year:
Updated: 27/03/14 19:00 CET
There’s been a flurry of activity at Circuit Paul Ricard since we arrived, bright and early, at 07:30 CET. The press conference and unveiling of the TS040 HYBRID went ahead without a hitch and everyone got to see the car after a few months of waiting. We’ve been getting driver comments on video which we’ll share throughout the FIA WEC Prologue.
From Toyota Europe side, we brought our invited journalists to the Paul Ricard Driving Centre to be driven around the track by Stéphane and Nicolas in Toyota GT86s.
Later in the afternoon, Alex and Sébastien sat down to answer questions from fans on our #AskTS040 live Twitter Q&A. Even Nicolas joined in for some fun.
— Nicolas Lapierre (@Nico_Lapierre) March 27, 2014
The FIA WEC Prologue starts tomorrow at 09:00 CET where the field will be out to test their cars on the same circuit together. Watch this space for the latest from Paul Ricard. Don’t forget to visit toyotahybridracing.com for new galleries being added throughout the event.
Updated: 28/03/14 21:45 CET
The official FIA WEC test sessions, aka The Prologue, kicked off this morning at 09:00 CET with both our cars heading out as the track opened. After four hours in bright sunshine in the south of France, we finished fourth and sixth in the time sheets. The afternoon session is currently underway before night falls and we head out for the final session of the day.
While that’s going on, we spoke to all our drivers to find out how they feel about the new TS040 HYBRID and also the coming FIA WEC season. Check out all six videos in our embedded playlist below:
We know you’ve been asking to hear the TS040 HYBRID driving on track in anger, here’s a taste:
Paul Ricard was basking in beautiful springtime sunshine during the afternoon session. Our cars ran throughout the session with various elements being tested. At the end of the second session of the day, we were again in fourth and sixth places in the time sheets.
The sun set at 18:55, just five minutes before we headed out for the two-hour night session of the first official test day. We ran through the darkness which saw the ambient temperature fall by some 10°C in a short period. The final session of the day saw car 7 finishing in third while car 8 finished one place up in fifth.
The weather conditions should be less pleasant than today when we kick off the second and final test day tomorrow at 09:00 CET. Join us again for all the latest from Paul Ricard and the official FIA WEC Prologue tests.
Here’s what Sébastien had to say about today’s session. For the full Q&A, click here to visit the TOYOTA Racing team website.
Until tomorrow, here’s a small clip of the TS040 HYBRID at full throttle past the start/finish straight:
Updated: 29/03/14 16:00 CET
The second and final Prologue test day started with a flurry of activity. Fans began arriving early in the morning, having been invited by FIA WEC to attend the test. The morning test session began at 09:00 CET in slightly overcast conditions and windy conditions.
Towards the end of the session, the sun started to shine, paving the way for a well-attended autograph and pit walk session during lunch time.
Our drivers were kept busy during the half-hour autograph signing with plenty of fans crowding around for a chance to see their favourite drivers.
The morning session ended with our cars in fourth and sixth in the time sheets.
The wind picked up in the afternoon, reaching speeds of nearly 50kph while the ambient temperature hovered around the 17°C mark. With an hour left of the session to go, the session was red flagged with a loose wheel of Porsche’s car 14.
We ended the session with Buemi setting car 8’s fastest lap of the day to finish in second while car 7 finished in fifth.
We’ve put together a small animation to show you the differences between the TS030 HYBRID from last year and this year’s new TS040 HYBRID. Enjoy!