Toyota GR010 Hybrid Le Mans race car unveiled

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Toyota introduced the GR010 Hybrid hypercar it will enter in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). New from the ground up, the gasoline-electric racer will spawn a street-legal variant in the near future.

What you see in the gallery above is what you’ll watch going flat-out when the GR010 begins racing later in 2021. Regulations only allow manufacturers to homologate one configuration, so Toyota won’t be able to modify the car’s aerodynamic package for low and high downforce circuits. Instead, an adjustable rear wing allows engineers to tweak the drag coefficient as needed. It will be slower than the TS050 it replaces, the company warned.

Here again, strict race regulations dictate what carmakers can and can’t do. Toyota noted it needed to make the GR010 some 357 pounds heavier and 32% less powerful than its predecessor in order to make it eligible for racing. It’s also nearly 10 inches longer, about four inches higher, and approximately four inches wider. It will consequently be about 10 seconds slower around the Le Mans track than its predecessor, but we don’t think fans will mind.

Developed in about 18 months by engineers in Japan and in Germany, the GR010 is powered by a gasoline-electric powertrain consisting of a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that sends 670 horsepower to the rear wheels, and a 268-horsepower motor-generator unit that zaps the front wheels into motion. Its total output checks in at 938 horsepower, and we’re hoping the street car matches that figure, but Toyota won’t be able to deploy the full cavalry during WEC races. Total output is capped at 670 horsepower, so the onboard electronics will adjust the amount of horsepower that the engine generates in real-time depending on the level of hybrid boost provided.

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López will drive the first GR010, which will race as No. 7. Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Brendon Hartley will compete in the No. 8 car. Peugeot will join the competition in 2022, while sister companies Porsche and Audi will jump into the ring in 2023.

Toyota’s GR010 Hybrid is coming soon to a television near you, then. More significantly, the company confirmed it will build a road-going model, so it could also be coming soon to your driveway. Details about the street-legal variant will be announced in the coming months. It will undoubtedly arrive as an expensive limited-edition model, but the lessons learned from the project will permeate more attainable members of Toyota’s future range. 

Racing has taken a serious punch to the gut since the beginning of the ongoing pandemic, but the 2021 WEC season should be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Competitors will race on a number of challenging tracks, including Sebring (March 19), Spa-Francorchamps (May 1), and Le Mans (June 12). Toyota is the reigning Le Mans champion, so there will be a lot at stake when its team lines up on the starting grid for 24 hours of racing.

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Saurabh Shukla

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