Toyota has not ruled out racing in the WEC’s new Hypercar category with a car based on a model available for road use.
Toyota has revealed that it will be in a position to take full advantage of the latest change that was ratified for the 2020/21 rulebook. This change was announced earlier this month permitting road-going hypercars to race against the one-off prototypes for the new category was originally thought.
Images show that this new Toyota design uses a lot of carbon fiber. Looking underneath the bodywork it looks like the entire monocoque is made from the ultralight carbon fibre material. The car appears to be using rear-mounted cameras instead of mirrors, which would likely need to change on the production version because in most countries the use of cameras to replace rear view mirrors is not (yet) legal.
Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon explained that the GR Super Sport Concept, pictured above, unveiled in January 2018 and subsequently shown at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours could be developed into its next WEC contender.
“We will have an hypercar: you know we are developing the GR Concept which has been presented at Le Mans last year,” said Vasselon. “We are prepared for a hypercar category.”
“To position ourselves, we need to have regulations,” he said. “It is a bit difficult to comment because they are a work in progress.”
Vasselon stressed that no timeline had been communicated regarding putting the GR Super Sport, which incorporates the running gear of the current Toyota TS050 HYBRID LMP1 car, into production.
The change in the rules to allow road-going hypercars to race alongside the new breed of prototypes was described by Vasselon as “positive and constructive because it may open the door to more participants”.
Aston Martin Racing president David King offered a similar opinion about the revisions to the hypercar concept confirmed by the March meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council. “What we all want is multiple bands competing at the top level at Le Mans,” he said.
“We have seen as a result of the challenge of getting enough people to commit to the regulations as they were that they have been opened up to hypercars. “In principle, we are supportive of that and we think it is a positive development.”
King denied that Aston had led the push for the change in the rules, but said that the marque intended to be a “constructive partner” as the rule makers work out how to incorporate road-going machinery into the regulations. “We are playing an active part because we want to be there,” he said. “We are interested and are working hard to evaluate various scenarios, but no decisions have been made.”
Toyota has previously declared its intent to continue in the WEC with a hypercar concept prototype when the new rules come into force in September 2020, but Vasselon insisted that it was too early to commit to one or other direction should it firm up its plans.
“We started this project because we believe that creating a super sports car that delivers the same appeal as the TS050 Hybrid greatly adds to Toyota’s involvement in the WEC. And at some point in the near future, customers will have a chance to get behind the wheel of this incredible machine and experience its astonishing power and driving performance.” Shigeki Tomoyama, Toyota Gazoo Racing president, said in the model’s announcement.
The GR Super Sport’s production announcement comes as quite a surprise. Toyota originally unveiled the machine at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January 2018. While Toyota expressed interest in building the hypercar, at the time the Tomoyama said: “Although it will be some time before you all have the opportunity to get behind the wheel, I hope that the GR Super Sport Concept will give you a taste of what we aim to achieve with our next-generation sports cars.” The statement didn’t make it seem that a road-going version could happen so soon.
- Source: Toyota
- Photocredit: Toyota
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