Toyota Gazoo Racing held a virtual press conference today to mark the launch of its new GR010 ’Hypercar’. Team Director Rob Leupen and Technical Director Pascal Vasselon initially talked us through the new car and then we were joined by its line up of impressive drivers. The stunning new racer will participate in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours. In anticipation of the new dialled-down ‘Hypercar’ regulations the new Toyota was conceived to be capable of over 800hp but the finalised regulations for the class set a power limit 100KW lower of 500KW (680PS). This means that the fastest lap time at LeMans is sadly safe this year, but Toyota feels that this season it is more about the class and being the best in it.
Other changes this season concern the availability of boost on demand as the beloved ‘button’ on the steering wheel is ruled out this year also. The Hypercar class cars are heavier (GR010 is 1,040kgs), have less downforce and braking power also and this will impact on how the cars retard their speed. The drivers will have to adapt quickly to the new set up but the Toyota drivers we spoke to said they actually enjoy the more predictable nature of the new car.
There is just one aero package allowed for the class for whole season and the drivers say this will make the season a bit easier as the car will be predictable as will other cars (making them easier to ‘read’ on track). The combination of more weight and less downforce should make racing quite different compared to last season. The loss of the power boost out of the corners is apparently very noticeable – again as a result of the new regulations. Fuel saving is not a requirement with the new car (compared to the legendary 1,000hp Toyota TS050 Hybrid) and the drivers are happy they don’t have to worry about this during a race.
How the car behaves under braking next to slower LMP2 cars will be interesting at LeMans but we can expect a lot of diving into corners and a more traditional acceleration curve out of them – unlike the massive urge from the TSO50. The new car has its 3.5 litre V6 twin-turbo engine on the rear axle and an electric motor on the front (the TSO50 had two electric motors – one on each axle). The GR010 is two wheel drive but also four wheel drive… with the new regulations all wheel drive is only allowed to activate at higher speeds (120km/h+). The drivers say the GR010 should behave in a similar way (predictable) in both dry and wet conditions.
We asked with the new regulations, will the driver be more important than the car and its technology (compared to TSO50) and the simple answer, from the drivers is – yes!
For the person on the street, the new Gazoo Racing GR010 Hypercar car will help deliver a future road car, that promises is something to look forward to. At the moment Sebring (USA) is scheduled as the first race of the season in March but we can only hope this happens with the impact of the pandemic.