Toyota Gazoo Racing begin a new era of endurance racing with the launch of their all-new GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercar, which will compete in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The reigning World Champions and three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winners will defend their titles against new manufacturer competitors with a racing version of the forthcoming hypercar road car, featuring powertrain technology developed in the previous TS050 Hybrid race car and highlighted with new Racing Hybrid branding.
The GR010 Hybrid is a prototype race car developed during the past 18 months in a partnership between by engineers at the team’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany, and the electric hybrid powertrain experts at Higashi Fuji in Japan. It features a powerful all-wheel drive racing hybrid powertrain, with a 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo engine providing 671bhp/680PS to the rear wheels and a 268bhp/272PS motor-generator developed by Aisin AW and Denso on the font axle. Total power output is capped at 500kW (671bhp/680PS), so the GR010 Hybrid’s sophisticated electronics reduce engine power according to the amount of hybrid boost deployed.
The racing prototype’s striking new look reflects the appearance of its inspiration, the GR Super Sport hypercar, which made its public debut in a demonstration run and ceremonial trophy return at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours and its currently in development. To mark his new era for Toyota Gazoo Racing, the race car bears a new livery that includes the GR lettering to indicate the strong link between the race and road cars.
Toyota Gazoo Racing enter their ninth WEC season with the same driver line-up which brought the team World Championship glory in the 2019-2020 campaign. Newly crowned World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José Maria López will drive the No7 GR010 Hybrid, while Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley will race with the No8 car. Nyck de Vries continues in his role as test and reserve driver.
The crews have already started an intense development programme for the car with three three-day test already completed as the team adapt to new championship regulations which mark a significant shift in terms of performance and philosophy.
In line with a cost-reduction initiative incorporated in the new regulations, the new GR010 Hybrid is 162kg heavier and has 32 per cent less power than its TS050 Hybrid predecessor, which means Le Mans lap times are expected to be around 10 seconds slower. It is also a bigger car, with length increased by 250mm, width by 100mm and height by 100mm.
For the first time since the beginning of their WEC project, Toyota Gazoo Racing will participate without a rear motor-generator unit (MGU); the single permitted MGU is located on the car’s front axle. This means the GR010 Hybrid requires a starter motor and fully hydraulic rear brakes.
State-of-the-art aerodynamics are optimised for efficiency and have been developed using powerful Computational Fluid Dynamics software and wind tunnel testing. The new technical regulations permit only a single homologated bodywork package, with one adjustable aerodynamic device. The GR010 hybrid will therefore compete in the same specification at both low and high downforce circuits, with an adjustable rear wing modifying its aerodynamic characteristics.
For the first time, the top class in the WEC and at Le Mans will feature a balance of performance, meaning organisers will modify the performance of each on a race-by-race basis, regulating energy usage and weight to target identical performance potential from each Le Mans Hypercar. That should ensure close competition between Toyota Gazoo Racing and its hypercar competitors Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and ByKolles Racing, and also Alpine, which will present an additional challenge with its LMP1 car.
These battles will fought over six races on three continents, beginning with the 1,000 miles of Sebring on 19 March, followed by the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (1 May) and the season highlight, the Le Mans 24 Hours, on 12-13 June. The first World Championship Endurance race to be held at Monza in Italy since 1992 will take place on 18 July before trips to Fuji Speedway in Japan (26 September) and Bahrain (20 November), all of which are six-hour contests.
Words from senior team personnel
Hisatake Murata, Team President: “It is a fascinating time for endurance racing, with the new Le Mans Hyper car class, and for Toyota Gazoo Racing, with the launch of the GR010 Hybrid. This car represents our next generation of racing hybrid. During our LMP1 era, since 2012, we worked tirelessly to improve and strengthen our hybrid technology for racing. We set new standards with the TS050 Hybrid and our first loop of racing hybrid development is complete. This technology will be available to our future customers soon. Now the second stage will begin. Through our WEC participation, we will refine our racing hybrid powertrain in the GR010 Hybrid, enhance our understanding of hypercar technology and continually develop our staff. We do this with one clear goal: to deliver more exciting sports cars to our customers in the future. The GR010 Hybrid is a preview of our road-going cars, and what we learn on the WEC race tracks will directly benefit our customers. For this reason, we are delighted to welcome new competitors to the top category of the WEC. A tough fight on the track will inspire us to continuously improve and push the limits for better.”
Rob Leupen, Team Director: “It has been a tremendous effort from the teams in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne, as well as our suppliers and partners, to develop and produce this new car, despite the difficult global circumstances, and we are looking forward to showing it to the world. The Le Mans Hypercar category represents a new era, with a different philosophy and new competitors. We are looking forward to this challenge. Balance of performance is something we have not experienced before in the WEC but we know from our other projects that it puts the emphasis on fast drivers, perfect operations and optimal strategy. Over our nine years the WEC we have achieved a lot, but we are not complacent. We always challenge ourselves to improve our technology and our processes to continuously perform better. So we have been working intensively and will continue to do so in the remaining tests before our long-awaited race debut with the GR010 Hybrid at Sebring. We look forward to finally showing our new car to the fans and being part of this exciting new era.”
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “The new regulations are designed to showcase road-relevant technology in the WEC while also delivering a top-level, attractive spectacle. We are looking forward to welcoming new competitors and being part of an exciting future for endurance racing with our GR010 Hybrid. The new La Mans Hypercar regulations mean that this is a completely new car, designed to a different philosophy. A major difference is the architecture of the hybrid system. We will have one kinetic energy recovery system and brake-by-wire, on the front axle. This means we had to install a starter motor and fully hydraulic rear brakes for the first time in our WEC project. Following the regulations, our car will have one bodywork specification to handle all circuits, so we needed to provide a wider working window for this car. These are just examples, there have been many such differences and challenges to address during development, so its has been an interesting engineering project. Now we are all looking forward to continuing our test programme and finally seeing our new car compete. I think it will be worth the wait.”
John Litjens, Project Leader Chassis: “The biggest difference between the GR010 Hybrid and its predecessor is the aerodynamics. In the past, the regulations limited what was allowed in many areas but under the Le Mans Hypercar rules, all cars have to be within certain performance windows in terms of downforce and drag, although there is more freedom permitted for the bodywork shapes and concepts. You can see the result of this very clearly on the GR010 Hybrid. There is a similar principle with the powertrain, with a given power curves but a lot of freedom in terms of configuration. The biggest challenge for us here was to move to only having a front motor-generator unit after five years with hybrid on both the front and rear axles. The hybrid system packaging was more challenging on this car because of updated safety standards. Additionally, the combustion engine is more powerful compared to the TS050 Hybrid, so this is a very different car both in appearance and how it sounds.”
Mike Conway (GR010 Hybrid No7): Everyone is excited to see the GR010 Hybrid racing for the first time. It’s always cool to drive a race car for the first time and a nice challenge to get used to all the small differences. I have been surprised by how good the car feels after just a few days testing, I already feel at home in it. It is a fantastic experience to be part of racing developments which will be translated into future road cars. The whole team is motivated by that and looking forward to showing the car to the fans this season. To start the new season as World Champion is cool, it gives all three of us in No7 a nice boost. But it’s one thing to win a title and another to retain it. The goal is to win the championship again and get the big one – Le Mans.”
Kamui Kobayashi (GR010 Hybrid No7): “This is a challenging new project. We are racing in the same championship but with a different type of car and against new competitors. It’s always fun to be at the beginning of such a story. I really like the concept of hypercar and the GR010 Hybrid, it’s great to be part of a project to bring Le Mans performance into a road car. The objectives and the requirements don’t change. We are racing to win and as drivers we have to be fast and consistent, even more so considering the balance of performance. We cannot afford to make mistakes. My number one target this year is to win Le Mans after such bad luck in the last few years. All the mechanics and engineers on car No7 deserve to win Le Mans.”
José Maria López (GR010 Hybrid No7): “I love to drive this kind of car. The GR010 Hybrid is a new friend for us and we have all really enjoyed the first tests. I am sure the fans will be very impressed with the way these new Le Mans Hypercars sound and look. The lines are really cool and the V6 engine makes a fantastic sound. The drivers and engineers have had to adapt to the different characteristics, particularly the weight and the different way the hybrid is deployed. The GR010 Hybrid has the same spirit as the TS050 Hybrid but you can feel it is developed to different regulations. We are in a process of adapting. The first target is Sebring but we will never stop learning and improving throughout the season.”
Sébastien Buemi (GR010 Hybrid No8): “We have been waiting for this new era for a long time and finally we get to compete with our hypercar; I think it will be amazing. I am really pleased with the GR010 Hybrid, it feels like a very good car and it looks stunning. Actually, I was not expecting it to be as fun to drive as it is. I thought it would feel like a GT car. But we learned a lot during our LMP1 era and we used that knowledge to improve the new car, so it feels like a prototype and I really enjoy driving such a fast car. We are getting ready for the first race of the season when we want to fight for the win right from the start. It was great to succeed in LMP1 but now we want to do the same in the Le Mans Hypercar era.”
Kazuki Nakajima (GR010 Hybrid No8): “It is really exciting to be part of this new WEC generation, which is quite different to what we had before in terms of the technology and the approach to racing. As a driver it is a special experience to race a new car for the first time and to experience the different sensations behind the wheel. The car looks great and it will be spectacular to watch when it is racing flat-out. I think the racing will be closer than ever this season; everyone in the Le Mans Hypercar class will be pushing to win which is good for drivers and fans. We need a different approach but the goal won’t change and the target for this season is always clear. We want to win Le Mans for a fourth time and the World Championship for Toyota Gazoo Racing.”
Brendon Hartley (GR010 Hybrid No8): “Fans are going to be pleasantly surprised with the GR010 Hybrid. It looks like a mix of an LMP1 and a road car. Endurance racing has always been a proving ground for new technology and now it is even more road car relevant; the GR010 Hybrid previews a car which the end user will experience on the road. It’s great to drive too, particularly with the hybrid four-wheel drive which is a nice sensation from a driver’s perspective. The big difference is the extra weight and a bit less horsepower and downforce, but it’s still just as much fun to drive as the TS050 Hybrid. We have a fun challenge ahead of us to extend the Toyota Gazoo Racing legacy at Le Mans and in WEC by continuing our winning run.”
GR010 Hybrid technical specifications
|Bodywork||Carbon fibre composite|
|Gearbox||Transverse-mounted, 7-speed sequential|
|Driveshafts||Constant-velocity tripod plunge joint|
|Differential||Mechanical locking differential|
|Suspension||Independent double wishbone with pushrods, front and rear|
|Anti-roll bars||Front and rear|
|Brakes||Akebono mono-block alloy callipers with carbon ventilated discs|
|Wheels||RAYS magnesium alloy, 13x18in|
|Tyres||Michelin radial (31/71-18)|
|Fuel tank capacity (l)||90|
|Engine||Turbocharged V6 with direct fuel injection|
|Valves||4 per cylinder|
|Engine capacity||3.5 litres|
|Max. engine power (bhp/PS/kW)||671/680/500|
|Max. hybrid power (bhp/PS/kW)||268/272/200|
|Battery||High-power Toyota Lithium-ion|
|Front motor/inverter||Aisin AW/Denso|