Toyota Gazoo Racing has unveiled its new-for-2021 Hypercar – the GR010 HYBRID, which is set to contest an all-new top class in the 2021 FIA World Endurance championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The reigning WEC champions and three-time Le Mans winners will defend their titles in 2021 with the racing version of the company’s upcoming road-going hypercar road car, using powertrain technology developed in its successful Toyota TS050 HYBRID LMP1 car.
The new GR010 HYBRID has been 18 months in development, with the car designed and built by Toyota Motorsport Gmbh in Cologne, Germany, and the hybrid electric powertrain, including a 500kW 3.5-liter twin turbo V6 engine driving the rear wheels and a 200kW motor generator unit driving the front axle, developed by Toyota at Higashi-Fuji in Japan.
Total output is capped at 500kW (680PS), meaning the GR010 HYBRID’s sophisticated electronics reduce engine power according to the amount of hybrid boost deployed.
The team has completed multiple days of tests in Europe with the GR010, including running in wet weather and darkness.
With the new regulations aimed at cutting costs, the new GR010 HYBRID weighs in at 162kg heavier and with 32% less power than its TS050 HYBRID predecessor.
Racing lap times at Le Mans are set to be around 10s slower than the LMP1 cars, and the new car is also physically larger than its LMP1 predecessor — 250mm longer, 100mm wider and 100mm higher.
The restrictions placed on the new hybrid systems by the Hypercar regulations mean that a starter motor must be fitted on the GR010 HYBRID, while fully hydraulic rear brakes are also mandatory. Neither were required in the hybrid LMP1s that Toyota ran in the WEC from 2012-2020.
Another major cost-saving change brought by the new rules is a cap on aerodynamic development. The new cars are allowed only a single homologated bodywork package, with only one adjustable aerodynamic device. There is no Le Mans low-downforce kit; a first since 2012.
The dawn of the Hypercar class in 2020 also marks the introduction of a Balance of Performance process into the top class for the first time, with the hybrid Toyotas to balanced against the non-hybrid Hypercars set to join the championship from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and ByKolles Racing, together with a ‘grandfathered’ non-hybrid LMP1 car to be entered by Signatech Alpine. This car is a Gibson V8-powered ex-Rebellion Racing R13 as Signatech looks to interest the Renault empire in top-class endurance racing.
That Balance of Performance process will be required to show further bite in 2022 when Peugeot Sport is set to join the FIA WEC with its new hybrid Hypercar, and then again from 2023 when a raft of incoming programs of manufacturer and customer cars join the fray built to the parallel LMDh ruleset, based on one of four available LMP2 chassis with manufacturer-specified engines and a ‘mild’ rear-driving spec hybrid system that will be common to all participating manufacturers and teams – another measure designed to cut costs.
Porsche and Audi have already confirmed their intention to join from 2023 with several other manufacturers currently evaluating programs.
“It is a fascinating time for endurance racing, with the new Le Mans Hypercar class, and also for Toyota Gazoo Racing Racing, with the launch of the GR010 HYBRID, said Hisatake Murata, Toyota Team President.
“This car represents our next generation of racing hybrid. During our LMP1 era, since 2012, we worked tirelessly to improve and strengthen our hybrid technology for racing. We set new standards with the TS050 HYBRID and our first loop of racing hybrid development is complete; this technology will be available to our future customers soon.
“Now the second stage will begin. Through our WEC participation, we will refine our racing hybrid powertrain in the GR010 HYBRID, enhance our understanding of hypercar technology and continually develop our staff. We do this with one clear goal: to deliver more exciting sportscars to our customers in the future.
“The new regulations are designed to showcase road-relevant technology in WEC whilst also delivering a top-level, attractive spectacle,” added Toyota’s Technical Director, Pascal Vasselon.
“The new Le Mans Hypercar regulations mean the GR010 HYBRID is a completely new car, designed to a different philosophy.
“A major difference is the architecture of the hybrid system; we will have one kinetic energy recovery system and brake-by-wire on the front axle. This means we had to install a starter motor and fully hydraulic rear brakes for the first time in our WEC project, together with just one bodywork specification to handle all circuits, so we needed to provide a wider working window for this car.
“These are just examples; there have been many such differences and challenges to address during development, so it has been an interesting engineering challenge. Now we are all looking forward to continuing our testing program and finally seeing our new car compete. I think it will be worth the wait.”