No matter how hard it tries, Toyota simply cannot win outright at Le Mans. Not with the GT-One in the late Nineties, nor the TS0 Hybrids it’s been running since 2012. But with both Porsche and Audi out of the picture, even with new rules that give hybrids weight and fuel-flow penalties, the odds of Toyota winning 2018’s 86th running of the 24 Heures du Mans with the TS050 are really quite good, although not entirely uncontested. You see, they’ll be racing the Rebellion Racing LMP1 team which now carries TVR branding (and who knows, development?). Either way it’s good news for the sport.
This year’s TS050 is broadly the same as the car that competed in last year’s World Endurance Championship (and won the last three races), but Toyota says the “1,000hp hybrid electric powertrain has been modified to strengthen reliability” (and avoid a repeat of last year’s 8th place finish at the Circuit de la Sarthe). There are some “small but productive improvements to the aerodynamic package”, but the big change comes in the form of the Spanish chap hired to drive it.
You might have heard of him. His name is Fernando Alonso, and he’ll share the No.8 TS050 car with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López will pilot the No.7.
The season begins in May with the Spa 24hrs. Le Mans isn’t until the 16th of June. Excited?