Last Lap looks at the 2022 ‘Evo’ updates which has been made to Toyota’s GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercar, due to race in its second WEC season.
The Hypercar regulations express that manufacturers build and homologate their models, for them to be able to ‘Evo’ the car every year for the next five.
By allowing this, the manufacturer – in this case reigning Hypercar champions Toyota GAZOO Racing – are able to make minor adjustments to the car.
However, the changes Toyota made were not officially classed as ‘Evo’ upgrades as their implementations were corrective measures rather than performance upgrades.
Last Lap already produced a technical profile on the GR010 Hybrid, so this piece will simply highlight the minor tweaks which have been made to the exterior for 2022.
First of all, the 2022-spec Toyota utilises larger tyres to its predecessor.
At the front, 12.5 x 18 inch magnesium alloy RAYS wheels are housed by 29/71-18 Michelin tyres while at the rear, 34/71-18 rubber is fitted to 14 x 18 inch wheels.
In short, instead of all-round 31 inch tyres, it is now at a 29-34 inch front to rear split.
Whilst all is practically the same underneath the bodywork, small modifications were made to aspects of the aerodynamics; again, minor changes.
There are enlarged rear wing end plates and an extended shark tale engine cover fin with a pointer edge in comparison to the the outgoing model.
A noteworthy mention about the engine, a 3.5L V6 turbo-hybrid petrol unit, has been modified to run on the renewable fuel which has been introduced for the 2022 World Endurance Championship season.
Its composition from wine residues and agricultural material reduces the output of CO2 by at least 65%.
Also, the 2022 Balance of Performance measures has raised the speed when the electric boost of the hybrid will kick in; from 120 km/h to 190 km/h.
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director at the team, gave his insight before the Sebring Prologue:
“The whole team is excited to be racing again and we feel in good shape following a very efficient pre-season testing programme.
“Development in the Hypercar class is tightly controlled by homologation rules.
“Consequently there are relatively few changes for our GR010 Hybrid in 2022.
“Hypercar manufacturers can choose between 31-31 or 29-34 tyres and this year we have moved to the 29-34 option, triggering some bodywork changes for cooling and to maintain aerodynamic performance within the homologation window.
“We expect this change to address challenges we faced last season with management of the rear tyres.
“Additionally, the introduction of the new renewable fuel meant the engine settings had to be adjusted to account for slightly different characteristics.
“This new fuel is an important step on the journey towards carbon neutrality for Toyota GAZOO Racing and WEC, so we are very supportive of such innovation.
“We have validated all changes during our winter tests (including the first outing of the year at Paul Ricard) and we will take the final preparation steps this weekend with the Prologue in Sebring before racing begins; we are impatient to get started.”
Addressing their updated structure of management, the retired Kazuki Nakajima will take an adviser role to mentor Ryo Hirakawa who joins the #8 crew his debut WEC season.
As reigning Drivers’ Champion with Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi will lead as Team Principal whilst driving for the #7 once again.
The 2022 season will run six rounds throughout the year, starting with an official two-day pre-season test at Sebring (12-13 March), followed by the 1000-mile opener a week later.
Season 10 visits Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, Monza, Fuji, and Bahrain to close the campaign in November.
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@TGR_WEC) March 7, 2022