Toyota Gazoo Racing ready for Le Mans with GR010 Hybrid
Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) is ready to debut the all-new GR010 Hybrid hypercar in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
It is the opening round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) that will commence on May 1.
Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) aims to defend its world titles in the opening round to the Le Mans 24 Hours. The racing team is poised to reach that aim after the "intense" pre-season testing of the GR010.
TGR said that thousands of testing kilometers have already been completed in three different circuits, since the GR010 first turned a wheel in October last year. The final step of preparation for Spa was a two-day official "prologue test" at the legendary Belgian circuit, held just this April.
That represents the first time the GR010 will be on track with rival cars, giving the team and drivers an important opportunity to evaluate the new car in traffic, and against its main competitors.
The GR010 features a front motor generator unit, delivering 270hp of hybrid power, and four-wheel-drive traction at speeds over 120kph. Combined with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, there's 671hp to use, with no restrictions on fuel usage.
In contrast, the racing team's previous TS050 Hybrid weighed 162 kilograms less and boasted 987hp, although strict per-lap fuel restrictions effectively limited top speeds, Gazoo Racing added.
With such significant differences compared to its predecessor, TGR thinks that drivers will need to adapt their approach, while engineers fine-tune the new hypercar for maximum performance.
The driver lineup in the team remains unchanged. World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López will share the Number 7 GR010, while last year's Le Mans winners Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Brendon Hartley are at the wheel of the number eight car.
Aside from on-track performance, TGR said it also has to adapt to new regulations, which limit the size of the operational crew at the circuit to 43 people.
This cost-saving measure requires significant flexibility from the mechanic and engineering crews to maintain their standards of close on-track support. Spa is the first time the slimmed-down team will operate in a competitive environment, the racing team added.
The team also has to adjust to a new qualifying format, with one driver per car setting a single flying lap. The qualifying will be held on April 30.
Despite of the challenges, the team said it has a target to start the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship season with maximum points.
TGR is proud of its excellent record at Spa-Francorchamps, with five victories there since its first WEC race in 2013.
WEC is a successor to the legendary Group C period of the 1980s and 1990s, and is now the top category of endurance racing with the Le Mans Hypercar generation.
“This is the start of an exciting new hypercar era for endurance racing," TGR President Hisatake Murata said.
After the TS050, Murata said that this new GR010 is not only the second phase in racing hybrids, but is also a start of delivering more "exciting sports cars in the future to our Gazoo Racing customers."
"We have learned a lot about the car during our tests and we can expect some surprises; that's normal with a new car," the driver of GR010 Number 7, Kamui Kobayashi,said.
"It's an exciting challenge for us to see what it can do in a race environment, with traffic management and against strong competitors in the hypercar class,” Kobayashi added.
Photo from Toyota Gazoo Racing