Toyota really, really wants to win Le Mans this year. Of course, every automaker that has cars in the famous endurance classic wants to win, but last year, Toyota came within three minutes of overall victory. This year, Toyota is bringing an updated version of its TS050 LMP1 car, which made its debut today, to the race.
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The 2017-spec TS050 features a new 2.4-liter V6 gas engine combined with an updated, eight-megajoule hybrid system carried over from last year's car. Toyota reworked the block, head, and combustion chamber on the gas engine to run a higher compression ratio and boost thermal efficiency.
In response to new FIA regulations, the TS050 sees some aerodynamic changes for 2017. LMP1 teams are now limited to two aerodynamic configurations for the entire World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, a low- and high-downforce setup. The TS050 pictured wears the low-downforce setup that'll be used at Le Mans.
The WEC is also attempting to reduce aerodynamic efficiency for 2017 LMP1 cars, so the TS050's front splitter now sits 15mm higher than before, and it uses a narrower rear diffuser. Talso gets a few minor changes to improve safety.
Toyota has already completed 30,000 kilometers testing the 2017-spec car, with more to come this weekend at the WEC Prologue at Monza. Three TS050s will be fielded at both the Spa 6 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while only two cars will run the rest of the WEC season.
Clearly, Toyota already has a strong car in the TS050, but it's up against an improved version of the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Audi might be gone from endurance racing this year, but the fight between Toyota and Porsche should be a great one.