With the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) drivers’ and manufacturers’ LMP1 titles in 2020, plus the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans crown, Toyota and its Gazoo Racing division has a lot on their hands right now.
Being a champion – a dominating one, no less – isn’t easy. You have to constantly outdo yourself even though you’ve already outdone everyone else. That’s the problem that Toyota currently faces – a good one, though.
The 2021 FIA WEC is on the horizon with the new Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) category. With that, the Japanese marque aims to begin a new era of endurance racing with its latest race car: the GR010.
The Toyota GR010 hybrid race car was developed at the team’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany over the course of 18 months. The electronics, including the hybrid boost, were developed in Japan at Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji technical center.
Now wearing its full Toyota Gazoo Racing livery, the new Toyota GR010 racecar is now ready for the track, effectively replacing the winning TS050 LMP1. It also previews the upcoming road-going Toyota hypercar, which made its public debut for the first time at the opening of the 88th Le Mans at Circuit de la Sarthe.
The Toyota GR010 is, of course, a hybrid. Main power comes from a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that sends 670 hp to the rear wheels. The electric powertrain produces up to 268 hp of boost, propelling the front wheels.
In comparison, the TS050 predecessor makes use of a 2.4-liter V6, which, when in full boost with the twin hybrid system, churns out up to nearly 1,000 hp.
The changes employed in the GR010’s powertrain setup reflects the technical regulations of the LMP1 successor, and so is the overall weight. Toyota LMH contender is 250mm longer, 100mm wider, and 100mm higher than the TS050. It’s also heavier, weighing 1,040 kilograms – just right above the 1,030-kg minimum of the new LMH category.
Taming this beast of a hypercar are the reigning champs from the 2020 FIA WEC season. Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez will drive Toyota’s #7 entry, while Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Brendon Hartley will race the #8.
The Toyota GR010 was supposed to face the Aston Martin Valkyrie in the new LMH category, but that was put on hold by the British automaker last year. The 2021 WEC season is scheduled to commence by March.
Meanwhile, while the GR010 is a preview of the production Toyota hypercar, details about the road-going model are scarce at this point. Rumor has it that the Japanese marque will be launching the hypercar by 2023, but let’s not hold our breath for that one yet.