The press has been closely watching the performance of both Toyota TS050 racing cars that participate in this year’s WEC competition. But there is a third one that we have found out about and that is a well-kept secret by Toyota!
The car was shown to the public for the first time at the 24H of Le Mans race. The first ones to see a glimpse of it weren’t the 150,000 spectators at the Friday’s official ‘Grande Parade des Pilotes’, in which 168 pilots took part. It were the six official Team Toyota GAZOO Racing pilots who took the honour: Sébastien Buemi, Mike Conway, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi admired the car in the presence of the chief engineers who are … children between 10 and 16 years.
The ‘MP 11H – Toyota Le Mans’
This group of 35 children call themselves ‘Galapiats’, which is old French slang for a ‘difficult child’. Far from being difficult, the Galapiats pupils are very disciplined and perseverant: for the last 11 months they have been building a 2/3 scale model of the real Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 race car, ‘the MP 11H – Toyota Le Mans’. The car combines a 1.0L gasoline engine taken from a Toyota Yaris with the electric motor of a Toyota COMS. This configuration allows for the car to be driven in electric mode, at low speeds, and to switch to the thermal engine whilst driving. When extra power is needed, for example when exiting a corner, the electric motor and the thermal engine can be used at the same time.
A dream coming true
The youngsters started from scratch to build this 2/3 replica. Yves Anelli, President of the Grenoble Association, saw them growing in confidence as the works went on: “It’s at a young age already that we want to further develop their passion for mechanics in general, and car engineering in particular. We want to stimulate their creativity and fire their imagination. With the presentation of their concept at the 24H of Le Mans in front of their idols, a dream came true!’
Once upon a time
The story between Toyota France and the Galapiats goes back more than 10 years. It all started in 2005 with the supply of 7 1.0 liter gasoline 4-cylinder engines of the Toyota Yaris produced at the French’s plant in Valenciennes, in the north of France. In 2010, two scale model F1 were created. In 2015, the Galapiats took on the challenge to create a 2/3 prototype inspired by the TS040 HYBRID.
It were the human values and the nature of the project to educate young children in the field of technology that brought Toyota France on board. Passion for mechanics, knowledge sharing, respect for others and team works are fundamental values that both Toyota France and the Galapiats team adhere to.
And who knows? Maybe amongst these Galapiats members there is an engineer in the making that in the future will work on the next Le Mans Toyota race car …?
If you speak French you can also check the video of the making.