The era of the hypercar top class in global endurance racing is finally here, arriving with the reveal of the Toyota GR010 Hybrid racecar today.
The GR010, like other Le Mans Hypercar-class cars (LMH), features a 670-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 driving the rear wheels, supplemented by a 268 HP electric motor sending power to the front axle. However, total output at any one time will be almost always limited to 670 HP, with certain scenarios dictating when and how much each power unit can contribute. To quote an earlier post I wrote on Peugeot’s LMH powertrain:
Per the regulations, the car will rely solely on the internal combustion engine at speeds below 75 mph; beyond that point, the electric motor will deliver power to the front axle, while the V6 will reduce its power in kind, as the total output of the hybrid system can’t surpass 670 HP at any point except briefly to recharge the battery when it’s depleted.
Toyota says the GR010 produces 32 percent less power than the company’s outgoing TS050 prototype; it’s also 357 pounds heavier. Slowing down the top endurance-racing class was a key part of original intent behind the ACO and FIA’s hypercar proposal, an attempt to make entry less cost-prohibitive for constructors. Unfortunately for those governing bodies, IMSA later slid in with its own ideas for cutting the cost of prototype production. IMSA’s approach is even more streamlined in terms of cost savings and as a result has drawn more interest from automakers globally.
Ultimately, none of this is yet Toyota’s problem because it’ll essentially race uncontested in the class for at least a portion of the 2021 campaign. Peugeot’s hypercar is set to to arrive in 2022, while Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and ByKolles are each working on chassis of their own that may see track action this year, though arrival dates appear to be uncertain at both teams.
Meanwhile, Porsche and Audi have Le Mans Daytona h (LMDh) entries coming in 2023. Acura, Cadillac, Mazda, Lexus and Hyundai have also either publicly flirted with, or been reportedly linked to, LMDh programs. The first three on that list are thought likely to go through with it because they currently field cars under existing Daytona Prototype International regulations in North America.
The upshot of all of this is that Toyota will have lots of time to work out the kinks in the GR010, temporarily free from the pressure of competition mounted by rival automakers. By the time Peugeot, Porsche and the like turn up, they’ll be working from a serious disadvantage in terms of real-world testing.
Many racecars don specific packages of aero devices at different circuits to maximize straight-line speed or grip depending on the characteristics of the track. The new rules forbid Toyota from doing that with the GR010, meaning it’ll pretty much look the same at Sebring as it will at Monza.
The new technical regulations permit only a single homologated bodywork package, with only 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 the aerodynamic characteristics.
Toyota will also build a series of roadgoing GR010 cars, but no final version has been revealed yet. A preproduction GR Super Sport did lap the Circuit de la Sarthe ahead of last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in September — looking pretty good, might I add.