Le Mans weekend is always a tortuous time for Toyota. The Japanese automotive giant has come so very close to winning the world’s most famous race, only to be cruelly denied by tyre or electrical issues at the last possible moment.
At the 2018 event Toyota is virtually assured of victory, finally, but what has been most interesting in the preamble to this year’s race is news around the GR Super Sport Concept. In a world where the hybridised hypercar has become big business for Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche – there is also an opportunity for Toyota to deliver a stunning road-going version of its Le Mans race car. And they’ve just announced that is exactly what is intended.
Beneath the extraordinary styling the GR Super Sport’s platform is a carbon tub, whilst detail obsessed design students will immediately notice the absence of wing mirrors, indicating an on-board field of view camera system to provide all-round visibility. Without the drag of wing mirrors GR Super Sport should be able to make the best possible use of its awesome hybrid power output, to probably become the fastest Japanese road car ever built.
The engine specification might appear underwhelming, a turbocharged 2.4-litre V6, but with massive turbines and a sophisticated high-voltage battery pack powering the electric component of Super Sport’s drivetrain, it’s worth a cumulative 735kW.
Often criticised for its ultra-conservative business practices, Toyota’s announcement that its GR Super Sport Concept will repurpose as a road car, is terrifically exciting news. It vindicates the brand’s exhaustive Le Mans engineering programme and proves, yet again, that hybridisation will provide a future of awesomely inspiring hypercar.
Without the incentives created by Le Mans, it’s unlikely the manufacturers involved would ever have invested in hybrid drive technology, which has driven the development of powertrains the like of which should make it possible for a 735kW Toyota hypercar to be delivered in 2020.
Ever since that last Lexus LFA was delivered, Japanese car enthusiasts have not had much to crow about. But with a new Supra and the announcement of this new Le Mans racer for the road, Toyota is restoring the faith.