Toyota’s endurance-racing campaign has been nothing short of spectacular with the manufacturer winning the championship two years in a row. With the TS050 race car being a tough act to follow, rivals are hard at work making machines that will hopefully put an end to the Japanese automaker’s winning streak. Because of that, Toyota had the vehicle gracefully make way for an all-new endurance racing machine.
It’s called the GR010 Hybrid. Obviously, it comes with streaks of red, white and black—Gazoo Racing’s colors. Interestingly, the team says that this car is slower than the almighty TS050 that came before it. That’s because this season’s technical regulations have put a cap on development costs and technical complexity in an apparent bid to keep the competition as evenly matched as possible.
Part of the standards that the GR010 Hybrid must follow affects its all-wheel drive system. Sure, the combination of a 671hp twin-turbo V6 powering the rear wheels combined with a 268hp electric motor at the front is no slouch. But race organizers will be altering the vehicle’s specs during each race, with the goal of keeping performance nearly identical among all LMP1 competitors. Combined output for the hybrid powertrain will be capped at 671hp by varying the gasoline engine’s output depending on the boost from the electric motor.
The GR010 Hybrid will also be restricted to a single body shell for all races, meaning the car will race in practically the same specification for both low- and high-downforce tracks. Only the rear wing will be left adjustable. Other changes include the omission of a motor generator unit on the rear axle and other bits and pieces, which supposedly makes the GR010 less complicated than its predecessor.
Toyota estimates that the GR010 Hybrid will be slower around the Le Mans circuit by around 10 seconds, so pit strategies and driver ability will now be more important than ever. Thankfully, the team has carried over its squad of jockeys from last season, so there should be no shortage of skills. Defending the crown will be Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez in Car No. 7, while Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley will be manning Car No. 8.
The upcoming World Endurance Championship season will start on March 19 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring. Its main event, the Le Mans 24-hour race, is scheduled on June 12-13. It will be very interesting to see how competitors will respond to the challenges brought about by the new (and restrictive) rules put in place by the organizers.