24h Le Mans
Toyota and the FIA WEC, 10 years and 32 victories
In 2011, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) announced the creation of the FIA World Endurance Championship also called the FIA WEC whose top category at the time LMP1 was open to hybrid technology. The FIA WEC comprised six to eight races per season whose formats varied from 6 to 24 Hours. Its intercontinental calendar (Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East) included the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was the jewel in the crown of this new championship.
2012-2020: the Hybrid era
In 2012, Toyota made its return to top-level world endurance racing for the inaugural season. After a 13-year hiatus the Japanese firm chose the 24 Hours of Le Mans as its first race to mark its comeback using hybrid technology, a domain in which Toyota is one of the world leaders for road use. The TS030 Hybrid prototype used a 530 bhp ICE coupled to an electric motor pushing out 300 bhp fed by the recovery of kinetic energy generated in the braking phase. The TS050 Hybrid, winner of the last three 24 Hours of Le Mans, was powered by a twin turbo V6 combined with two electric motors developing a total power output of 1000 bhp!
Since 2012 Toyota is the only manufacturer not to have missed a race in the top-level FIA WEC category. On the eve of the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans the brand holds the record for the number of outright victories with 32 including the last three editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Toyota has also clinched three manufacturers’ (2014, 2018-2019) and drivers’ titles with Sebastien Buemi (2014, 2018-2019), Anthony Davidson (2014) and Kazuki Nakajima (2018_2019 as well as the reigning 2019-2020 champions, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez.
2021: the Hypercar, the start of a new era
Today, Toyota is one of the pioneer manufacturers in the new Hypercar category that has replaced the LMP1 prototypes in 2021. It has already racked up three victories in the first three FIA WEC races of this new era.
The Hypercar category allows the manufacturers to design their car from A to Z. But the specificity of the Hypercar is also visual. Its exterior appearance must take into account not only the technical and aerodynamic constraints linked to racing and the regulations, but also the aesthetic codes of the road-going models of the brand. This will facilitate its instantaneous identification by the public.
Several brands have already confirmed that they will enter for this category. The first manufacturers entered for 2021 are Toyota and Glickenhaus. Peugeot, which recently unveiled its Hypercar 9X8, is expected in 2022 while Porsche, Audi and Ferrari will take to the track in 2023 - the centenary year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The temporary exhibition is open now and runs until 20 February 2022.
Head to Musée des 24 Heures du Mans to find out more.