The roll-out of a brand-new car is always a tense and unpredictable experience, and so it was again when TOYOTA Racing arrived at Paul Ricard earlier this month for the very first track test of the TS040 HYBRID. Click through to read more.
Having been assembled at TMG just-in-time for delivery to Paul Ricard, the car sat in the garage in a rare state – naked carbon fibre with not a sticker or logo in sight.
But the hard work back at the factory appeared to have paid off when the car was rolled into the pit lane a few minutes before the green light. By the time the car was rolled into the garage with the sun setting over the south of France, a few content smiles began to emerge.
For all the tension and excitement, relief is the main emotion when a new race car successfully completes its first runs. The TS040 HYBRID made a good start to life ahead of what will inevitably be a challenging and fascinating 2014 season.
Adding to the tension prior to the start of the new season is a significantly revised rule book, which means the new TS040 HYBRID is a fundamentally new car compared to its predecessor.
As well as a change in dimensions (10cm narrower) and improved safety measures such as a rear crash structure, side-impact protection and wheel tethers, LMP1 cars in 2014 are now encouraged to push hybrid technology even further.
With no limits on when the hybrid boost can be used and double the amount of boost available, teams have a lot more to play with in 2014.
TOYOTA Racing will use this, hopefully to great effect, with a four-wheel drive hybrid system delivering substantially more power than the 300hp of boost provided to the rear wheels in 2013.
But it’s not just in terms of performance figures and lap times that this move is significant; it also represents a sincere desire on the part of the ACO and manufacturers to encourage the development of road-relevant technology in WEC.
Road-relevant it may be, but don’t expect to see much of the TS040 HYBRID in the next few weeks. With all LMP1 manufacturers pushing to the limit to find additional performance, TOYOTA Racing is taking no chances and will be keeping the TS040 HYBRID under wraps until the official WEC test at the end of March.
Please be patient, we all hope the wait will be worthwhile!