Toyota's Le Mans Racecar Entries to Feature Two Hybrid Motors

By Joel Arellano | January 25, 2012
In 2006, Audi surprised the racing world—and pleased oil-burner fans everywhere—when it introduced its diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI at Le Mans. The move helped shift public perception of diesel vehicles as smoky, slow-moving obstacles to viable performance machines. Toyota may be hoping to do the same for hybrid vehicles with its TS030 hybrid race car. Toyota first announced its intent to debut a hybrid-powered race car in Le Mans back in 2008, but has been quiet on the specifics since then. The automaker finally released details this week, including information on some of the drivers. The TS030 Hybrid race car will be powered by a 3.4-liter V-8 gasoline engine and, interestingly, two hybrid motors. The hybrid motor system for the race car's front wheels have been developed by Aisin AW while the rear pair is powered by a DENSO-built system. Apparently the configuration was necessary to meet racing regulations limiting hybrid motors to only two wheels at a time. The TS030 hybrid race car will also sport a brand-new carbon fiber body. Toyota will debut two TS030 hybrid race cars at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Drivers Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, and Kazuki Nakajima have already been confirmed as a team to drive one of the cars; the second team is still being assembled. Andrea Caldarelli of Italy, though, has been confirmed joining Toyota as a junior driver. Wurz (see below), Lapierre, and driver Hiroaki Ishiura have already driven the TS030 at Paul Richard Circuit in France.

Toyota last raced at Le Mans in 1999. Source: Newspress