Toyota on Friday revealed its contender developed for the new Le Mans Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship. It's called the GR010 Hybrid, and it's an evolution of the TS050 Hybrid LMP1 racer that Toyota drove to all three of its 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victories.
The GR010 Hybrid will start racing this season in the LMH class, alongside Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus with its 007 and ByKolles Racing with its PMC Project. Alpine will also compete at the top level, albeit in the older LMP1 class. Balance of Performance rules will ensure both classes are competitive.
There will be six rounds in the 2021 season of the WEC. The opening round is the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 19 at Florida's Sebring International Raceway. The season highlight, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is scheduled for June 12-13. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez will drive the number seven car for Toyota, and Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley will drive the no. eight car.
Toyota also reconfirmed Friday that its GR010 Hybrid will spawn a road car (referred to as the GR Super Sport), in line with the LMH rules calling for a road car with a similar powertrain concept to the race car. Yes, the manufacturer best known for its vanilla sedans and crossovers is developing a hypercar. It was previewed in 2018 with a concept and a prototype was rolled out during the 2020 Le Mans race.
Toyota GR Super Sport prototype
Toyota has developed the GR010 Hybrid alongside the road car. The race car features a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 rated at 670 horsepower at the rear axle and a electric motor-generator rated at 268 hp at the front axle. System output is capped at 670 hp, meaning the two power sources in the GR010 Hybrid are never running at their respective peaks at the same time.
In order to reduce costs of competing, the regulations limit the use of exotic materials. The cars have also been made bigger, with the GR010 Hybrid growing about 10 inches in length compared to the TS050 Hybrid. It means the GR010 Hybrid is 357 pounds heavier than the TS050 Hybrid, which Toyota said will result in lower lap times. At Le Mans' Circuit de la Sarthe, the GR010 Hybrid should be about 10 seconds slower per lap.
Toyota GR Super Sport concept
A minimum of 25 road cars equipped with the same powertrain concept must be produced by the second year of competition. And for following years, that number is expected to be bumped higher. It's possible the road cars will be even more powerful than the race cars, since 670 hp no longer cuts it as far as hypercars are concerned. In the original GR Super Sport concept shown in 2018, there was a 2.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 and electric motor-generator good for a combined 986 hp.
While the concept had an enclosed cabin, the prototype shown at last year's Le Mans was a roadster. It's possible the final design for the GR Super Sport will be a canopy-style roof that incorporates the windshield and flips up, providing easy access to the cabin. Such a design was filed by Toyota with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last year.