World endurance championship
fresh zip in its step
Times are hard in europe, which prompted
peugeot to pull the plug on its le mans
prototype program on the eve of the
launch of the revived World Endurance
Championship last season.
SEASON STARTS APRIL 14
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS MARCEL FASSLER,
ANDRE LOTTERER, BENOIT TRELUYER (AUDI)
TV COVERAGE SPEED (LE MANS)
SPEED’s coverage of Le Mans effectively meshes
live TV with online streaming.
Last year Toyota was the dark horse. Are its TS030 Hybrids the cars to beat this year?
daniel Kalisz/la T
AFTER ITS STRONG 2012 WEC PERFORMANCES, SOME SEE TOYOTA AS 2013’S FAVORITE. IS IT?
toyota: still the underdog?
In a battle between Audi and Toyota, it’s
hard to regard either as the underdog, but
that’s how the latter still views itself in the
second year of the FIA World Endurance
Championship. That’s despite its superb
first-year form, where the German-based
team all but matched its “local” rival Audi
in terms of speed at Le Mans and then
scored wins in four of the shorter races.
“We cannot be considered favorites
for Le Mans, because we have never
completed 24 hours,” insisted Toyota
Motorsport technical director Pascal
Vasselon at the launch of his team’s
revised TS030 Hybrid for 2013. “We can
be considered the favorite for the
six-hour races, because we have already
achieved reliability over that distance.
But we know Audi will react; they have
been operating at the highest level for
14 years, they have competent people,
so we expect them to be back.”
The latest TS030 is built around a new
monocoque that eliminates many of the
compromises in the original, which had been
designed to test a front-axle energy retrieval
system in addition to the rear-axle system
raced. The 2013 tub has allowed Toyota
to optimize its front-end aero treatment.
Taking a page out of
Audi’s book, Toyota
has worked hard to
improve the TS030’s
serviceability in the
event of mechanical
issues or accidents,
getting a makeover.
the concept of the splitter and everything
underneath is different and altogether
more efficient,” noted Vasselon.
Toyota is still to test its definitive 2013
rear-end aerodynamic package
Beyond how much of an improvement
Toyota’s developments provide, the key
question, as noted by Vasselon, is how
Audi reacts. The German manufacturer
will field updated versions of its flywheel
hybrid-powered turbodiesel prototype in
the eight WEC rounds after “previewing”
its Le Mans challenge at the Sebring 12
Hours with one 2012-spec R18 e-tron
quattro and an updated 2013 version.
78 sprinG 2013