- Toyota Racing will test the new TS030 Hybrid LMP at Paul Ricard today.
- The team will run a pair of the cars this year in the full World Endurance Championship.
- The team won three of the last four WEC races last season.
LE CASTELLET, France — Toyota Racing is testing the new TS030 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype at Circuit Paul Ricard today ahead of the World Endurance Championship season.
The team, which debuted last year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and qualified both cars in the top five, will run both cars in the entire WEC season this year, beginning with the opening event, the Six Hours of Silverstone, on April 14.
In last year's qualifying at la Sarthe, one of the new hybrids out-performed the third Audi Sport Team Joest machine for 3rd place and the second Toyota pushed the Audi Sport North America R18 ultra out of the top five.
Neither car fared well in the race, with the No. 7 of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Nicolas Lapierre completing only 134 laps before retiring and finishing 48th while the third-qualifying No. 8 entry, driven by Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin, ended 51st after completing only 82 laps.
However, improvements made the new car competitive with the dominant Audis. Wurz and Lapierre teamed to win three of the last four races in the eight-event season, at Sao Paulo, Fuji and Shanghai. Nakajima was a co-driver of the winning entry at Fuji.
The new car will feature further improvements in powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics, the team announced.
Also, both cars will run the entire schedule this year. The No. 8 car competed only in the Le Mans debut last year. Drivers will be the same as last year's Le Mans lineup.
The new car uses a revised version of the Toyota Racing super capacitor-based hybrid system. It delivers 300 horsepower of boost automatically, on top of the 530 hp generated by a 3.4-liter, normally aspirated gasoline V8 engine.
Edmunds says: Audi's 11th victory in the last 13 editions of the Le Mans classic with its R18 e-tron quattro stole the thunder as hybrids dominated the event, but later performances proved the TS030's qualifying effort at Le Mans was no fluke. The car can be expected to provide a challenge to the Audis this year.