The GR010 will compete at Le Mans starting on June 12.
Toyota's motorsport and performance division, Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR), has gotten lots of attention over the last year or so with the arrival of one of the most exciting road-going hot hatchbacks in recent memory in the form of the extremely quick GR Yaris, while the GR Supra continues to entertain in the sports car segment.
On the racing side of things, TGR has just unveiled its new GR010 Hybrid Le Mans hypercar that is set to take part in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Teased by Toyota last week, the GR010 was developed over the course of the last 18 months and boasts a powerful 671-horsepower powertrain.
The four-wheel-drive racing prototype features a racy-sounding 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that sends 671 hp to the rear wheels, along with a motor-generator unit (MGU) unleashing a further 268 hp to the front. However, rather than combining the outputs of the two power sources, the total output has been capped at 671 hp. Compared to its TS050 hybrid predecessor, the GR010 produces 32 percent less power and is heavier by 357 pounds.
The result is an expected Le Mans lap time that is about 10 seconds slower. This is also a bigger car than before; it is 9.8 inches longer, 3.9 inches wider, and 3.9 inches taller than the TS050. Various new regulations and a focus on greater affordability have motivated these changes. Regarding the slower lap time, Pascal Vasselon said in a January 15 press conference that "we are losing in acceleration" and "we lose time in cornering speed" relative to the previous car.
This will be the first time since the beginning of the WEC project that TGR will take part without a rear-mounted MGU, as the only permitted MGU is now situated at the front of the car. Along with the new powertrain comes a striking new look.
Toyota turned to the GR Super Sport hypercar - which is currently being developed - for inspiration, with the GR010's livery donning prominent GR lettering as a link between GR's race and road cars.
The GR010 also comes with an adjustable rear wing that can alter the aerodynamic characteristics of the racer. Only one adjustable aerodynamic device is permitted as per the latest technical regulations.
While most of us will never get the chance to drive a Le Mans racer, Team President Hisatake Murata made it clear that the technology on display here will filter down to road cars 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," he said.
As Toyota enters its ninth WEC season, the same drivers that led the team to Le Mans and World Championship wins over the last two years will race the new GR010. The driver lineup includes Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, along with test and reserve driver Nyck de Vries.
In a January 15 press conference, de Vries said of the GR010: "You can feel the car is heavier and the behavior of the powertrain is different", but he was looking forward to how the new regulations would make for even more competitive racing.
The GR010 will first compete at the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 19 as part of a series of six races spanning three continents. This includes Le Mans 24 Hours that will be held on 12-13 June.