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Fourth time lucky? Toyota’s 2015 TS040 Hybrid is ready for another Le Mans assault

The third time didn’t prove lucky for Toyota, which couldn’t defeat juggernaut Audi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year. So for 2015, the Japanese carmaker is back with an updated version of its TS040 Hybrid, hoping to find success on its fourth attempt.

The 2015 Toyota TS040 Hybrid is largely the same as last year’s model, with some changes made to comply with new regulations. The car features a new front crash structure, new aerodynamic packages, and has lost a few pounds.

So while the new version may not look very different, Toyota says it redesigned 80 percent of the parts.

The powertrain still consists of a 3.7-liter V8 with electric assist, with a total system output of around 1,000 horsepower.

Le Mans rules classify cars in the top LMP-1H hybrid class based on the amount of energy they can recover per lap, with a minimum of 2 megajoules and a maximum of 8 mj allowed.

Toyota will stick with the 6-mj class it ran with last year. The 2015 Audi R18 e-tron quattro will be in the 4-mj class this year.

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In addition to the updated Audi, the Toyota TS040 will also compete against the sophomore version of Porsche’s 919 Hybrid, and the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.

Audi still appears to be the dominant team, but Toyota’s impressive showing last year bodes well for 2015.

A TS040 won pole position at Le Mans last year, and while Toyota lost Le Mans, it won the 2014 World Endurance Championship, of which the legendary French race is a part.

Toyota says the 2015 TS040 has already logged 15,000 testing miles in Europe, but its race debut is still two weeks away at Silverstone in England. The Toyota team then heads to Le Mans in June to take another shot at ending Audi’s winning streak.

Since 2000, only two teams have been Audi at Le Mans. One was corporate cousin Bentley in 2003, the other Peugeot, in 2009. With three teams gunning for Le Mans glory this year, Audi may face its biggest challenge yet.