Although the road car program might be facing issues, Toyota’s competition hypercar, the GR010 Hybrid has been nothing but a roaring success. With wins at Monza, Spa, and Portimao, the team is looking to take its fourth straight victory at Le Mans this year and become the first-ever Le Mans Hypercar class winner.
With a familiar stable of drivers in the form of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez trading shifts behind the wheel of the #7 GR010 Hybrid, and Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley sharing duties in the #8 car, there’s no shortage of experience.
The trio driving the #7 car will be on a mission to prove they aren’t beset by bad luck, having endured heartbreak in 2019 and 2020 when mechanical issues denied them victory. The team at the wheel of the #8 car, meanwhile, will look to continue their winning streak, having won the last three 24 Heures du Mans races, albeit not all with Hartley.
“We are putting all our effort into extending that winning run by becoming the first Hypercar Le Mans winners,” said Hisatake Murata, team president, in a statement. “The engineers and mechanics have been working closely with the drivers to fine-tune the car, always with the target of being strong in Le Mans.”
In March, it was announced that the race would be moved from its traditional June running time to August 21-22, in the hopes of being able to welcome crowds to the event. Last year, the race was closed to fans.
Toyota will face competition from the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 007 LMH and a grandfathered Alpine LMP1 car. The SCG 007 is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V8 created by Pipo Moteurs and features an “artificial intelligence throttle” that keeps the turbos spooled regardless of accelerator input. The Alpine car, meanwhile, will be based on the Rebellion R12 car designed by Oreca and will feature a 4.5-liter V8. Power for the class is capped at 670 hp (679 PS/499 kW).
The Toyota GR010 Hybrid, on the other hand, is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that works with a 268 hp (271 PS/199 kW) electric motor powering the front wheels to deliver a total of 670 hp. The car is 250 mm (9.8 inches) longer, 100 mm (3.9 inches) wider, and 100 mm (3.9 inches) taller than the TS050 LMP1 car that preceded it.
In all, Toyota estimates that each car will make around 25,000 gear changes, do 2 million wheel rotations, and go full throttle for 4,000 km (2,485 miles) during the 24-hour race.
“I am happy to welcome fans back to the circuit, particularly for this race where they create such a special atmosphere,” said Murata. “Thank you to the ACO for working so hard to make this happen. I am sure this will be a Le Mans to remember for everyone.”