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Toyota reveals updated GR010 Le Mans Hypercar for WEC 2022

Toyota has revealed the updated specification of its Le Mans Hypercar ahead of the defence of its World Endurance Championship drivers' and manufacturers' titles this year.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Toyota Racing

The switch of front and rear wheel and tyre sizes on the Toyota GR010 HYBRID outlined by Autosport late last month has been confirmed, along with aerodynamic revisions necessary as a result of the change to maintain airflow and remain within the performance windows laid down by the LMH regulations.

The revised Toyota, which will race for the first time in the 2022 WEC season opener at Sebring on 18 March, is now running 12.5 inch wide front wheels and 14in rears rather than 13in wheels it ran at all four corners last year.

These are the two options currently allowed in the rules and were devised to reflect the different requirements of four-wheel-drive hybrids and cars with rear-drive only.

Pascal Vasselon, technical director of Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe, explained the change has been designed “to address challenges we faced last season with management of the rear tyres”.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: Toyota Racing

A higher and longer engine cover fin, also known as a dorsal fin, and enlarged rear wing endplates were described by Toyota as “the most visible” of the aerodynamic changes.

The two aerodynamic fences on top of the cockpit have also been revised and are now longer.

Kamui Kobayashi, who will combine defending the title he won with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez last year with his new role as team principal of the WEC squad, said: “We found some areas to adjust the GR010 HYBRID last season, so we have worked on those, and I think our car will be more consistent now.”

No mention was made in Toyota’s preview of the Sebring event, which begins with the official pre-season prologue test this weekend, of the change for this season to the so-called ‘120 rule’.

That was the minimum speed in kilometres per hour at which hybrid power could be deployed through the front axle when the car was on dry-weather slick tyres.

This and the 150km/h minimum previously enforced when a hybrid was on grooved-rubber have been moved from the technical rules into the system of Balance of Performance.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: Toyota Racing

This means those speeds can change from track to track and from car to car according to the BoP published prior to each race.

The engine settings of the GR010 have been adjusted for 2022 in line with the introduction of a new 100% renewable fuel from the single supplier, TotalEnergies. Vasselon described the new fuel made from waste products of the wine industry as “an important step on the journey towards carbon neutrality for Toyota Gazoo Racing and WEC”.

“We have validated all changes during our winter tests and we will take the final preparation steps this weekend with the prologue in Sebring before racing begins,” he added. “We are impatient to get started.”

Toyota has not confirmed how many of the five so-called 'evo jokers' allowed to it under the lifespan of the LMH regulations it has used with the upgrades for 2022.

The GR010 will be running at the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway for the first time this weekend after the US WEC fixture was cancelled last year as a result of the COVID pandemic.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Toyota won the inaugural Sebring 1000 Miles, which was part of the WEC superseason of 2018/19, three years ago with Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima driving a Toyota TS050 HYBRID LMP1 car.

Nakajima is now vice-chairman of Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe following his retirement from the cockpit at the end of last seasons.

The 37-year-old Japanese will support team operations at the WEC races as well as mentoring Ryo Hirakawa, who has taken his place in the second Toyota alongside Buemi and Brendon Hartley.

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