Toyota unveils its hybrid 2012 Le Mans Challenger
By Jack Martin
January 24, 2012
Last October Toyota announced its participation in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship with a hybrid prototype race car. Today the company revealed some of the details of the TS030 HYBRID with surprises galore. The car uses a normally-aspirated 3400cc V8 petrol engine and a supercapacitor energy storage system developed by Nisshinbo.
Remarkably, though the hybrid drive train has already been dubbed THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System - Racing), the team is still evaluating whether it will use a front motor system from Aisin or a rear motor system from DENSO.
With 3.5 million hybrids sold to date, Toyota is the world's largest seller of hybrid cars, hence the design of the THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System - Racing) powertrain has been subject to intense speculation. The answer is that Toyota is still working on what it sees as the best set-up.
The first tests of the TS030 hybrid will be used to evaluate a front motor Aisin system or a rear motor DENSO system. Current regulations limit the amount of energy that the hybrid system can recover to a maximum of 500kJ between braking zones and electrical power can only be delivered through two wheels. So it's not yet finalized as to whether the car will be AWD, as it would be with the Aisin system, or 2WD with the Denso system.
The car has a carbon fiber LMP1 chassis which was developed and produced at TMG (Toyota Motorsport GmbH - the former home of Toyota's F1 effort) in Germany.
The first driver line-up to be announced is Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima and discussions are still ongoing to finalize the driver line-up for the second car.
The TS030 had a shakedown and initial tests at the Paul Ricard circuit in Southern France on January 11-13.