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Toyota to race in new Le Mans hypercar series

Published: 14 June 2019

New WEC hypercar race category
► Launches in autumn 2020
► Brings Valkyrie, super-Supras and more

The World Endurance Championship (WEC) has confirmed rules for a new hypercar class that will usher in some of the most exciting roadgoing supercars to the most famous races around the world.

The announcement has been widely expected and was made on the eve of the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours. It means that super-Supras like teh car below, Mercedes-AMG hypercars and Aston Martin Valkyries will soon be competing in top-class WEC championships such as Le Mans and Spa.

So we'll see more cars like the Toyota GR Super Sport Concept racing in WEC?

You bet. Toyota has already confirmed it will be compete in the new top-class endurance racing from autumn 2020 with a hybrid-powered Gazoo Racing Super Sport road car - and we think the car below could be very close to what we'll see on the track. Once it's removed of about 250bhp to fit in with the new rules of course. 

At the Tokyo Auto Salon in 2018 Toyota revealed the GR Super Sport concept – a 986bhp, LMP1-inspired hybrid. On the same weekend the racing team took its maiden Le Mans victory last year, the Toyota Gazoo racing president Shigeki Tomoyama, revealed the company’s plans for the Super Sport.

‘Competing in the World Endurance Championship – one of the most demanding motorsport series – and racing at Le Mans helps us to advance the development of our world-leading hybrid electric technology and enables us to transfer the knowledge we gain to our production cars,’ he said.


'And at some point in the near future, customers will have a chance to get behind the wheel of this incredible machine and experience its astonishing power and driving performance.’

What’s going on?

Just like the Mercedes-AMG Project One, the GR Super Sport will use hybrid-technology derived from racing, and will also be produced in very low numbers. It’s also the perfect halo car for Toyota’s new GRMN brand – which consists of the GRMN Yaris, and soon a GRMN Supra.

Everything else to know

The new GR Super Sport Concept looks very much like a prototype LMP1 or LMP2 car, and features a low-slung profile with a stabilising shark fin and bulbous driver cockpit. While the design of the car is clearly influenced by the Toyota FT-1 concept and current road cars, there’s a chunk of racing LMP1 DNA here, too. 

Most importantly, the WEC influence extends to the Super Sport Concept’s engine, as it’s powered by a twin-turbo, direct injection 2.4-litre V6 engine combined with a Hybrid System - Racing powertrain. Toyota says the concept’s power unit features technology and systems derived from its endurance racing program. It'll be able to put out a staggering 986bhp. That's too much for the new WEC rules right now, but a bit of tweaking or an engine swap would be all that's needed.

Race to road

The idea of bringing racing technology to the road isn’t a new idea, but it’s one Toyota is embracing more and more. Earlier this year we drove the incredible Toyota Yaris GRMN, a track-ready hot hatch for the road – and this GR Super Sport Concept is the next model in the race to road push.

While the Yaris GRMN gains most of its technology from Toyota’s rally program, the GR Super Sport Concept features learnings from LMP1 – a class in which Toyota is now the only works manufacturer. In many ways, cars as interesting as the Super Sport Concept are justifying Toyota’s decision to continue to race at Le Mans.

‘Rather than developing production cars into sports cars, we aim to work out how to incorporate the know-how gained from racing and rallying into production cars,’ said Shigeki Tomoyama, President of Toyota Gazoo Racing. ‘This is how sporting competition contributes to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s efforts to make ever-better cars.’

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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