Toyota has shown its hand as the titanic clash of the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans draws ever closer. This is the Toyota TS040 Hybrid, which will fight the Audi R18 Ultra and Porsche 919 Hybrid for LMP1 honours this year.
What’s the Toyota TS040 Hybrid’s powertrain spec?
It’s the biggest (and possibly the best-sounding) engine of the three LMP1 big-hitters. While Porsche has opted for turbocharged V4 petrol power, and Audi a V6 turbodiesel, the TS040 uses a wailing 3.7-litre petrol-fuelled V8, developing 513bhp.
Toyota brags that the V8 engine is built at the company’s Higashi-Fuji technical centre, where Toyota’s road-going engine R&D work is carried out. The Japanese maker is making plenty of noise about its petrol-hybrid racing tech having a direct trickle-down effect into your next Toyota or Lexus hybrid.
In addition, Toyota has taken full advantage of the relaxed rules on hybrid boost propulsion. While the petrol engine feeds the rear wheels, the electric motors deliver drive to all four wheels, with a huge 473bhp kick. Together, the TS040’s powerplants add up to make 986bhp – an identical (1000PS) power figure to the original-spec Bugatti Veyron.
The motors provide a huge regenerative braking effort, storing retardation energy in an on-board ‘super capacitor’. As the driver accelerates, the TS040’s generators reverse their function, switching from energy harvesting serve up a savage kick in the back.
Sounds like it’ll be fast!
British driver Anthony Davidson, who will share the No.8 TS040 with Nicolas Lapierre and fellow ex-F1 pilot Sébastien Buemi, says ‘the most impressive aspect is the four-wheel drive hybrid; the traction and the power really feel good when you come out of a corner’.
The other car, designated No.7, will be driven by Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima.
What else has changed from last year’s Toyota Le Mans prototype?
In accordance with the revised World Endurance Championship regulations, the cars are now 10mm narrower, and run skinnier tyres. To combat this, Toyota’s completely reworked its aerodynamic package to increase downforce and grip levels.
Although the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June is the battle we’re all waiting for, the TS040 Hybrid will make its competitive debut on this side of the Channel, at the Six Hours of Silverstone on 20 March 2014.
>> Who’s your money on for LMP1 glory: Audi, Porsche, or the V8 Toyota? Add your comments below, and don’t forget to vote in our LMP1 winner poll on the CAR Online homepage