Kamui Kobayashi gets his seat in Toyota TS050
With a lacklustre 2015 season in the World Endurance Championship behind them, Toyota revealed its new contender and tweaked the driver line-up. Will it be enough to beat defending champions Porsche?
The Toyota TS050 Hybrid will line up next to the Porsche 919 and Audi R18 in the premiere LMP1 category as the eight-race series moves across the globe, including the jewel in the calendar, Le Mans in June.
Under Toyota Gazoo Racing (a name we first heard in Dakar with the SA-built Hiluxes) the two cars leave the blue and white livery in favour of a new black, red and white design. A bit bland to our eyes but the start of a new motorsport partnership.
At this stage the Toyota TS050 is expected to retain the same V8 engine coupled with twin electric motors, one on each axle for all-wheel drive and an estimated combined output of 1000HP. By comparison the Audi uses a smaller V6 and the Porsche a unique V4 layout.
The number 5 car will be piloted by returning drivers Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima and the number 6 car will be piloted by Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway with retired F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi, replacing Alex Wurz.
Koboyashi, who drove for Toyota F1, brings plenty of experience to the team. He recently drove for Ferrari in the GT Class and has been a reserve driver for the Toyota team. “I’m really excited be an LMP1 race driver and I would like to thank Toyota for this opportunity,” Kobayashi said in a statement. “I tested the TS040 Hybrid a few times and it was a seriously impressive car; the power of the hybrid system in particular was amazing.”
The first round of the 2016 WEC season begins on the 17th of April with 60 cars taking to the grid.