2013 Frankfurt MS: Interview
President Toyota Motorsport GmbH
Yoshiaki Kinoshita started his career with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) in 1978 as an Engine Research and Development Engineer, during which time he helped develop the 3.5-litre V10 engine in the Toyota TS010. In 1989 Kinoshita-san progressed to oversee Toyota's World Rally Championship and Le Mans programmes, before moving across to Toyota Racing Development in 1996 to take the position of Vice President in charge of the Champ Car campaign. From 2004 to 2007 Kinoshita-san was General Manager of TMC's Motor Sports Division, which from 2010 onwards has also meant being President of Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany.
Now that you have returned to working on GT prototype race cars, how has Toyota's approach changed?
Kinoshita: Toyota is an engineering company and we are very serious about that fact. We think that our efforts in racing are a showcase of our engineering. Six or seven years before we launched the TS030 HYBRID we realised that our development of race engines had to help our road-going cars, otherwise our effort would mean nothing or at least have less meaning. We therefore decided to bring our green technology, our hybrid system, into the racing field. Development in this area would then help to make our road-going cars more efficient.
So is there a relationship between Toyota's racing efforts and its road cars?
Kinoshita: Yes. Compared to the KERS system in Formula 1, a racer like the TS030 HYBRID is much more closely related to road-going cars. Half of the technology comes from the hybrid production department in Japan it develops the racing systems and brings the know-how and technologies back into the road cars.
Can you be more specific about the differences or similarities?
Kinoshita: One difference between the racing hybrid and production hybrid is in its range. Production hybrid systems are mainly focused on low fuel consumption during city runs, but with race cars there are no city runs, only high speed. Our racing hybrid system recovers all its energy very rapidly during deceleration, like in the three seconds it takes to go from 300km/h to 100km/h. This very large braking energy must be recovered very quickly.
A complete recharge in just three seconds?
Kinoshita: Our racing hybrid system has sixty times more energy recovery capacity than the road-going hybrid unit. This means that you need an energy storage facility that allows for a very fast charging and release performance — three seconds to charge and just two-and-a-half seconds to release everything. Current hybrid road cars have batteries that cannot cope with this kind of high energy flow. Only a super capacitor has this performance capability, so our production division is now thinking that super capacitors could be used in road-going cars for improved energy recovery.
We can't wait to see what Toyota comes up with in that respect. But what does Le Mans mean for you personally?
Kinoshita: Le Mans is a legendary race, and every person in the racing world wants to win at Le Mans. Toyota has challenged Le Mans for over 30 years and we've come second four times, so I really want to get first place. We don't go to the race without first dreaming about winning, so every morning I'm dreaming about winning.