WEC 2023 Season: Preview
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing ready for 2023 with revised GR010 HYBRID
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has revealed a revised GR010 HYBRID Hypercar for the 2023 season, when it will defend its number one status against new competitors at the start of an exciting era for the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The team’s incredible run of success, which so far includes five consecutive Le Mans wins and four straight WEC title doubles, will be challenged by more Hypercar participants than ever before in a seven-race 2023 season, which includes the centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Cadillac, Ferrari, Porsche and Vanwall join existing Hypercar competition from Peugeot and Glickenhaus to form a 13-car grid in WEC, with even more cars likely at Le Mans in what is expected to be a closely-fought contest for the biggest prize in endurance racing.
The GR010 HYBRID was the first Hypercar to break cover back in January 2021 and it has undergone a programme of detail evolutions in key areas, as it did for 2022, to optimise reliability and efficiency.
Adjustments have been made to the high-performance Racing Hybrid powertrain, which consists of 520kW (707PS) 3.5litre engine and 200kW (272PS) electric motor, to reduce weight and improve reliability, exploiting the unique knowledge gained from more than a decade of experience with Hybrid powertrains at Le Mans.
The most visible changes on the 2023 evolution GR010 HYBRID concern the bodywork. New dive plane aerodynamic devices on the front corners and a smaller rear wing end plate, as well as other detail changes, have been implemented to enhance drivability and aerodynamic consistency.
Modifications have also been made to the bodywork with the target of improving brake cooling and allowing quick changes to cooling options during a race, achieved through new vents at the front and rear. Additionally, a revised headlight lay-out has been implemented to optimise visibility during night driving.
Under the bodywork, the GR010 HYBRID has gone undergone a weight saving programme to bring the overall weight down to the minimum 1040kg allowed by regulations. That addresses compromises made during the car’s design phase in 2020, which were the result of how the Hypercar regulations evolved.
The GR010 HYBRID will again use 100% renewable biofuel fuel, made from wine residues and agricultural material, which reduce CO2 emissions by at least 65% and contribute to ongoing efforts to increase sustainability in endurance racing.
To compliment those efforts, the pre-heating of tyres before use is no longer permitted, which reduces energy consumption and emissions. As a result, Michelin has introduced a new range of tyre compounds, designed to reach peak operating temperature quickly, whilst retaining durability and performance.
Once again, the GR010 HYBRID benefits from the technical expertise of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s long-term partners, who continue to contribute significantly to its success. DENSO supplies radiators and spark plugs whilst also contributing to the front motor alongside AISIN. RAYS delivers lightweight magnesium alloy wheels, Akebono provides mono-block alloy brake callipers and Mobil 1 is the lubricant of choice.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is unique on the 2023 grid thanks to a driver line-up exclusively consisting of proven Le Mans winners and WEC champions. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López will team up for the sixth successive season in the #7 car, while last year’s Le Mans and world title winners Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa join forces in the #8 GR010 HYBRID.
The test and reserve driver role will be taken by Kazuki Nakajima, who retired from racing at the end of 2021 following a career which included three Le Mans wins and a World Championship, as well as two Super Formula titles. He will conduct the role in parallel to his position as Vice Chairman of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe.
The season begins on 11-12 March with an official Prologue test, followed on 17 March by the 1000 Miles of Sebring, before trips to Portimao (16 April) and Spa-Francorchamps (29 April). The highlight of the season, the centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours, takes place on 10-11 June, prior to the final three races at Monza (9 July), Fuji Speedway (10 September) and Bahrain (4 November).
Kamui Kobayashi, Team Principal: “This is the season we have been waiting for. It’s amazing for the fans to see so many manufacturers competing in Hypercar, and as a team we are excited by the new competitors. We want to be part of a big fight at the front, one which will entertain the fans and produce many great memories, particularly for the 100th anniversary of Le Mans. At TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, we never stand still and we are always pushing to make ever-better cars. So, just like last year, we have introduced some evolutions to our GR010 HYBRID for the 2023 season. These updates are the result of strong cooperation between team members in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne, as well as our partners and suppliers, so I would like to thank everyone for their hard work so far. The drivers’ first impressions of the revised car from the roll-out and our pre-season tests are positive, which gives us confidence that together we can fight to retain our Le Mans and WEC titles.”
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “We have made evolutions to our car to further improve reliability, drivability and serviceability, part of our normal long-term plan for continuous improvement. We implemented a big evolution for 2022 with the change of wheel size, which was necessary to address some issues we were suffering from, and it delivered the benefits we expected. The modifications we have made for 2023 are the normal next step in this process, and we have seen encouraging results in pre-season testing. It is exciting to compete against new entrants in Hypercar this year, particularly for the fans, but our approach doesn’t change. The job remains the same; we aim to win, so we must get the maximum out of our package, without mistakes. That is how we always approach racing. Reliability and global pace consistency, as well as the reduction of accident risks, are critical factors which we have continued to focus on with the updated GR010 HYBRID and our approach to the 2023 season.”