Here’s the first footage we’ve seen of the all-new Toyota GR Super Sport race car, which is being developed for the Hypercar class that will headline the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship from the 2020/21 season on, replacing the existing ultra-complex and ultra-expensive LMP1 category.
The rules governing the Hypercar class are extremely complicated. But they boil down to this: teams contesting the category can use either a pure-bred racing prototype that looks like it could be a road-going hypercar, or they can use a racing version of an actual road-going hypercar.
Toyota has chosen the latter – a thinly-veiled ‘concept’ of the GR Super Sport road car was unveiled over a year ago. Both road and race car are powered by a 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6 engine backed up by a hybrid system. The road car will produce 1,000hp but the race car is capped at 750hp, up to 270hp of which can come from the electric motor. Much more serious aero will ensure the race car is faster round a track.
The video you see here – released by Toyota’s in-house motorsport division Gazoo Racing – shows a prototype GR SS being assessed by company CEO Akio Toyoda at Fuji Speedway in Japan. He’s obviously not going as fast as a professional race, but the GR SS certainly looks fast. And, as the saying goes, if it looks fast it probably is fast.
Aston Martin confirmed last week that it will race in the Hypercar class with its Valkyrie and McLaren is expected to join in, as well. Other manufacturers and privateer teams are sure to sign up, though the lead time on developing a completely new car is pretty short for anyone other than a major car maker. Watch this space.
LMP1 still has one last season to run, the 2019/20 term starting at Silverstone in September. The 2018/19 championship concluded last weekend at Le Mans where the #8 Toyota of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima snatched a last-gasp victory from the #7 sister car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez. That car had led the race from the start until a couple of technical issues in the last hour necessitated two trips to the pits. The #8 crew secured the WEC title for themselves and Toyota, and took their second successive Le Mans win.
Here’s a video explaining the Hypercar class rules
By Graham King