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Toyota TS040 for Le Mans 2015: Japan starts technology offensive

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Toyota TS040 for Le Mans 2015
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V many have already forgotten: the fact The fact that a Japanese manufacturer clearly ironed the two German premium brands Audi and Porsche last season and won both world titles (driver and manufacturer) is actually a sensation. Also because Toyota's budget in the LMP1 battle is at best half as large as that of the German competition.

'We had a great season in 2014 when we won both world titles,' says technical director Pascal Vasselon firmly. 'I think it's fair to say that we had the best LMP1 car in 2014, so it is of course all the more painful that we didn't win Le Mans!' Vasselon is aware that the German manufacturers will try everything to oust Toyota from the top in 2015. 'So we set up an aggressive development program: we wanted to build on our strengths and eliminate our weak points.'

Toyota remains in the 6MJ Hybrid classification

The strengths of Toyota were clear: the Japanese had the best tire management, that is, the drop over a stint was much less than that of Audi and Porsche. Second, Toyota had two strong aero packages with a lot of downforce for the World Championship tracks and with less downforce for the special case at Le Mans. And thirdly, Toyota had advantages with the powertrain: the combination of naturally aspirated V8 and double KERS on the front and rear axles was, according to FIA simulations, the most efficient solution in the LMP1 field.

But Toyota didn't focus on that Laurels from 2014 rested: the basic concept remained the same, but 80 percent of all components were redesigned: 'Either to further optimize the parts, or to save weight - or both,' says Vasselon.

Toyota had to invest weight to increase the number of supercapacitors and thereby keep the hybrid performance more stable over a racing distance. This additional weight had to be saved for other components. Toyota remains in the 6 MJ class and does not go to the highest ERS class (8 MJ) like Porsche. 'All in all, this is the best solution from our point of view,' says Vasselon.

Toyota TS040 for 2015 with major aero update

The second focus was on the topic of aerodynamics: 'That The aim was to reduce the aerodynamic drag while maintaining the same downforce, 'says Vasselon. Because the motors with the amount of energy availableare limited, aero efficiency is essential, because you don't want to waste nanoliters of fuel because of excessive air resistance.

Incidentally, the new aero configuration also required a new crash structure on the front axle of the TS040 Hybrid. At the same time, the so-called aero flexibility - the targeted deformation of the bodywork in order to reduce air resistance at high speeds - was limited by the regulations, which narrowed the scope for further development.

According to insiders, Toyota has 60 points in the Aero efficiency gained on a scale of up to 300, i.e. improved by 20 percent. That does not mean that Toyota has 20 percent more downforce, but that efficiency - i.e. downforce with air resistance - has improved by 20 percent.

To understand: if a solution in aerodynamics has at least 3 to 5 points it is usually implemented. In other words: Toyota has made a massive leap forward here. 'We certainly haven't slept,' grins Vasselon, but adds: 'We believe that we know that Porsche and Audi in particular have made massive improvements in terms of aerodynamics.' Improve the area by 2 percent, which corresponds to almost exactly 2 seconds per lap on all tracks except Le Mans. The goal for 2015 is clearly formulated by the TMG team from Cologne: They want to defend both world championship titles - and finally win the 24h race in Le Mans for the first time! Innovations on the Toyota TS040 and have comparison images with the previous model.

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