The eight-race 2019-2020 World Endurance Cup season that kicks off this week with the annual Prologue test in Barcelona, represents the final competitive action for the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which made its debut in 2016. Barcelona comes as the FIA announces changes to the LMP1 Equivalence of Technology rules. (87th Le Mans 24 Hours)
In the latest attempt to have a “more equal level of performance and increased competition between the LMP1 Hybrid and Non-Hybrid prototypes competing in the WEC, the following Equivalence of Technology (EoT) changes” were announced today. (Le Mans 2018 – Wrecks, Pit Stops, Safety Car – Pick Winners. Toyota Finally Wins P1 After Years of Breakdowns with a Record 388 Laps.)
The FIA hastened to add that the points were :discussed and agreed” by the LMP1 cartel of competitors – Toyota Gazoo Racing, Rebellion Racing and Team LNT ahead of The Prologue, the WEC’s official pre-season test in Barcelona on 23/24 July. (Season 8 Teaser)
Weight: The Toyota TS050 HYBRIDS will each carry an additional 14kg compared to the 6 Hours of Spa 2019, that is +40kg compared to the car’s minimum regulation weight.
Fuel tank capacity: The fuel tank capacity will be adjusted to ensure an equal number of laps per stint for both LMP1 H and LMP1 NH for every round including Le Mans.
Refueling time: At each pit stop LMP1 H cars will refuel 1 second slower than LMP1 NH cars to compensate for the advantage they have restarting in electric mode.
Success handicap: A success handicap will be introduced whereby the performance of all cars – hybrid or non-hybrid – will be adjusted before each race to take into consideration points scored in the Championship. The LMP1 non-hybrids this year were unable to run with the Toyotas. Le Mans debutant Stoffel Vandoorne drove with Russian duo Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin in the SMP Racing No. 11 car, with the trio successfully bringing the BR Engineering BR1 – AER car home in third position. The sister No. 17 SMP car retired after 18 hours following an incident at the Porsche Curves.
Bruno Senna crossed the line fourth in the No. 1 Rebellion Racing Car, after losing time early in the race following a puncture. The sister No. 3 car finished fifth. ByKolles Racing Team and the No. 10 DragonSpeed Oreca-07 Gibson were hindered with reliability problems with both cars unable to finish. (Is this racing or NASCAR or pro wrestling? – editor)
These latest changes will come into effect from the opening round of Season 8, the 4 Hours of Silverstone on 1st September. For the 24 Hours of Le Mans a specific EoT will be implemented using the same principles as for the Season 8 EoT.
Back in 2016 Toyota’s Le Mans debut almost ended with victory before the unprecedented drama of a technical issue on the penultimate lap. In 2017, Kamui Kobayashi piloted the TS050 Hybrid to the fastest-ever Le Mans lap on his way to pole position, while Mike Conway set a new race record this year.
The 2018-2019 WEC season saw the TS050 Hybrid go down in history in 2018 as the first Toyota to win Le Mans, while a repeat one-two victory a year later capped an extraordinary season which saw Toyota GAZOO Racing win the teams’ and drivers’ World Championships.
For the upcoming season, the most successful car in Toyota ‘s circuit racing history, a 1,000PS four-wheel-drive Hybrid prototype, has been modified with revised aerodynamics and further fine-tuning of mechanical parts to strengthen reliability.
Behind the wheel, the #7 TS050 Hybrid has an unchanged line-up of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López while Brendon Hartley, a former Le Mans winner and WEC champion, joins World Champions Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 car. Thomas Laurent will combine his new role as test and reserve driver with an LMP2 race seat with Signatech Alpine in order to enhance his development.
A farewell tour for the TS050 Hybrid begins on 1 September with the 4 Hours of Silverstone, the first of eight races on four continents featuring a combined 66 hours of racing on historic tracks such as Sebring, Spa-Francorchamps and Fuji Speedway, ending at Le Mans on 13-14 June 2020.
2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship
- 1 September – 4 Hours of Silverstone
- 6 October – 6 Hours of Fuji
- 10 November – 4 Hours of Shanghai
- 14 December – 8 Hours of Bahrain
- 1 February – 6 Hours of Sao Paulo
- 20 March – 1000 Miles of Sebring
- 2 May – 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
- 13-14 June – Le Mans 24 Hours