Toyota Racing is making history this weekend at Le Mans 24 Hours by racing with two hybrid-powered cars set to compete in the elite LMP1 class and using a new powertrain developed specifically for motorsport.
A Denso rear hybrid motor has been fitted within the gearbox casing, and the car uses regenerative braking with energy stored until needed, for example as an extra boost on the exit from corners.
The TS030 hybrid chassis was developed and made at Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, Germany and has completed 18 test days. Toyota said that despite the challenges of optimising such new technology, progress has been rapid.
Toyota Racing will add to its environmentally friendly stance at Le Mans with support from Yamaha Motor Europe which is providing 16 EC-03 electric scooters for the team to use in the race paddock.
The number 7 car features two-time winner Alex Wurz (Austria), former Sebring 12 Hours winner Nicolas Lapierre (France) and ex-Formula 1 driver Kazuki Nakajima (Japan). In the number 8 car, three-time Le Mans pole position winner Stéphane Sarrazin (France) joins
multiple endurance winner Anthony Davidson (Great Britain) and Formula 1 young gun Sébastien Buemi (Switzerland).
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, team president, said: "This is a learning year for Toyota Racing but
nevertheless we set ourselves high standards, so we want to prove the performance potential of the hybrid system and the TS030 HYBRID.
"We know it is not easy to face such experienced opponents and we face a steep learning curve, but the ultimate medium-term target for this project is to win Le Mans so we aim to take a big step in this direction in 2012."