The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans is shaping up to be quite the technical showcase, with each of the competitors in the top LMP1 class using hybrid powertrains.
This is nothing new for Toyota. Back in 2012, the Japanese automaker provided a rival for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in the form of the TS030 Hybrid. Audi took the win in that first-ever duel of endurance-racing hybrids, but Toyota hasn’t given up yet.
The company updated the TS030 for 2013, but for this year’s season it will field a new racer dubbed TS040 Hybrid.
The most novel thing about the new Toyota is that it, like its German rival, will have all-wheel drive. Like the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the TS040 will use an electric motor-generator to power its front wheels. Power will be accumulated under braking, and discharged during acceleration.
The TS040 will use the same naturally-aspirated turbocharged 3.4-liter V8 as the old TS030 to power its rear wheels.
Toyota says the chassis has also been redesigned to lower weight, improve aerodynamics, and comply with regulation changes that effect this year.
However, the TS040 Hybrid won’t show its face until March, when Toyota plans to unveil it at the testing session for the 2014 World Endurance Championship.
The season begins April 20 with the 6 Hours of Silverstone, but all eyes will be on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. For the 2014 edition of this most-famous endurance race, the TS040 will once again compete with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, as well as the new Porsche 919 Hybrid.