Toyota returned to the World Endurance Championship in 2012, bringing its hybrid technology with it to the track. By last year, they made themselves the reigning WEC champions. Its plan for defending the title is simple: keep the formula that brought them the win, just refine it a little.
Toyota will again field two TS040 Hybrid LMP1 racers, with just a few modifications. It will still be powered by the same 3.7-liter V8 it used previously, coupled to front and rear-mounted electric generators to power all four wheels. This adds 473 horsepower to the V8’s 513, giving the racer a total output of 986 hp.
Behind the wheel, Toyota will keep on all the same drivers as last year, save one, as Mike Conway will replace Nicolas Lapierre as part of the #2 car team. The only other changes in regards to drivers has been to mix the teams up, seating Sebastien Buemi and Alexander Wurz in the #1 car with Kazuki “Kaz” Nakajima.
“Based on our experiences in 2014, we have decided to modify the line-ups for each car and we believe this will give us the optimum overall performance as the individual driving styles are now well matched. All our drivers are WEC race winners and we are confident they will add to their tally this season and in the future,” said team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita.
This info was confirmed the same day as Toyota announced its planned return to the World Rally Championship in 2017, fielding a new Yaris-based race car. With Toyota Motorsport now doubling its global motorsport effort, there is concern that this will put a strain on both, but Kinoshita remains confident. “[running two programs] simultaneously is of course a challenge but we believe we have the expertise and determination to succeed.”
We’ll have a chance to see if Toyota can earn a consecutive win when the WEC season starts on April 12th at the 6 hours of Silverstone.