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Toyota Team 24h Race Le Mans 2013: The Japanese Challenger

John Brooks
Toyota Team 24h-Race Le Mans 2013
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M sometimes the recipient hits the full Balance of truth only with a slight delay. There can be two reasons for this: The recipient cannot immediately recognize the truth - or he does not want to see it.

Toyota versus the Le -Mans-rival Audi

This is roughly what happened to Toyota in the last direct duel with Le Mans rival Audi, when both started their LMP1 prototypes in the 1,000-kilometer race in Spa at the beginning of May - the last test under racing conditions before the big 24-hour race in Le Mans 2013 in mid-June.

Both manufacturers launched a car with Le Mans set-up: Audi showed the R18 e- tron quattro long tail, Toyota came up with the completely redesigned TS030 Hybrid. Both vehicles had the aero set-up trimmed for maximum top speed and little air resistance on board, as will also be used at Le Mans.

The Toyota shock from Spa

The new Toyota could not convince in qualifying. In the race, the leading Audi rattled for over three hours before the TS030 was eliminated with damage to the hybrid system. So far so good. The Toyota press release spoke of the fact that they were well prepared for Le Mans and consoled themselves over the failure by pointing out that they could keep up with the Audi pace.

Four days later it came U-turn: Toyota publicly complained that Audi had too much engine power and warned the Le Mans organizer ACO that it must now intervene and reduce the power of the diesel Audi before Le Mans. “We are not at all happy with the situation,” said Toyota Technical Director Pascal Vasselon, “because we cannot fight Audi. If it stays that way, then our chances of a good result at Le Mans are very, very slim. ”The internal race analysis at Toyota showed: Despite more downforce, Audi had an advantage in acceleration and top speed.

Where does Toyota really stand?

The reaction of the Toyota team shows a slight panic, there is no other way explain why regulators are publicly asked to intervene just six weeks before the most important race of the year. The fact is: Audi caught Toyota on the wrong foot. The Japanese believed developing oneCompletely new chassis with revised aerodynamics could stabilize, if not even extend, their advantage from last year.

Last year, Toyota beat Audi in three races in its debut season in the World Sports Car Championship. Toyota had more downforce, and the hybrid system with the supercapacitors was clearly superior. But Audi has analyzed the defeats in 2012 and resolutely developed a new car for the 2013 season - although all manufacturers will have to build new cars again next year due to the introduction of the energy-based regulations.

The overhaul at Audi has in the Total brought more than the new monocoque at Toyota. Audi has made a significant leap forward with a blown diffuser based on the Formula 1 model, the widened rear wing and the rear section lengthened by 119 millimeters and probably turned the deficit from last year into an advantage. Toyota may still have an advantage with the hybrid system - but here, too, Audi has shortened the gap.

The Audi coup at Engine

But the decisive difference lies in the engine: Last year, Audi never used the superior performance of the V6 diesel engine, instead stretching consumption and focusing on range. This year, Audi relies fully on the trump card speed: At the World Championship run in Spa, consumption soared by 20 percent compared to the previous year - a clear indication of the change in strategy at Audi. Toyota has no answer to Audi's power play: The free-sucking V8 petrol engine was taken over almost unchanged from the previous year.

Homework for Toyota

'Le Mans is not lost yet,' reassured a Toyota works driver. Because the factory team based in Cologne still needs optimization - the new aero concept for 2013 is radically pointed towards Le Mans, which greatly increases the susceptibility to pitching and causes problems when braking and on bumps. In addition, tire wear has increased. The Toyota warehouse is hoping to be able to cure these problems in two set-up tests.

The radical aerodynamics should give Toyota a greater rate of increase when driving on the track for which these aerodynamics were built. The advantage of the hybrid system should have been retained. If Toyota succeeds in optimally implementing the aero concept at Le Mans, the only disadvantage is the engine. But that weighs heavily: 10 hp bring 0.8 seconds per lap on the 13.629 kilometer long Le Mans track. Should Audi really have an advantage of 40 hp, then that would correspond to 3.2 seconds per lap - just because of the engine power.

This is all gray theory. The full truth about the true balance of power between Audi and Toyota will not be revealed to the fans until Le Manssee.


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