World Champions in the block

While Porsche presented their 919 model in final form yesterday (26), Toyota took their time at Paul Ricard to show their revised TS040 Hybrid model to defend their FIA World Endurance Championship title, as well to make some announcements to the public.

The naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V8 engine is still there to power the rear wheels of the cars, but other changes were made on the chassis and in the hybrid section.

Body, aerodynamics and the crash structure were redesigned to make the TS040 have less drag and to be tougher. Replacement of certain parts for lighter ones helped too, but with an improved hybrid drive, the weight of the car as kept on the minimum of 870 kg.

About the hybrid power, Toyota guys considered a move to the 8 MJ energy recovery class, but with the difficulties that such move would bring to them, as well the possibility to changes from their famous supercapacitors to battery storage, they remained in the 6 MJ class for 2015.

But the hybrid system was improved heavily, as almost all parts were replaced, and according to Pascal Vasselon, TMG’s technical director, this year their hybrid system will operate closer to what is expected.Toyota ran the new TS040 at Portimão, Aragón and Paul Ricard, and according to Vasselon, they covered about 26.500 kilometers testing the updated car.

Toyota took the opportunity to say that ex-Caterham F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi was named as test and reserve driver for the LMP1 project, as he will also focus his attention in the 2015 Super Formula season. Another statement is that Toyota remains committed to FIA WEC until 2017, dispelling rumors that the Japanese manufacturer would drop the LMP program in favor of the World Rally Championship campaign with the Yaris model, to start in 2017.

Last but not less important is that TMG’s current president,Yoshiaki Kinoshita, will leave his position to go back to Japan to take care of other assignments. Kinoshita was present on Toyota’s sportscar return since its start, in 2012, and in the world title conquered last year. He said that this move is a normal practice for Toyota executives as he felt his mission was completed at TMG. The last race with Kinoshita as president is the 6 Hours of Silverstone, starting the FIA WEC season.

To replace Kinoshita at TMG, Toshio Sato was called and will take over the position on April 1st. He comes with credit for being involved in Toyota’s Formula 1 project, as well on Toyota and Lexus hybrid system development.

PHOTOS: Toyota Racing,