With just a few days before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race this week, both Audi and Toyota are putting the final touches on their respective race cars. The fact that Toyota Racing will compete this week is especially impressive, as a crash during testing had previously destroyed the primary chassis for the company's race car.
Toyota Racing revealed in April that its hybrid racecar, the TS030, had crashed during testing. That meant it missed its race debut at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 5, because Toyota didn't have a duplicate version of the carbon-fiber composite monocoque. However, the company is now ready to enter two versions of the TS030 in Le Mans.
The hybrid race car uses the so-called Toyota Hybrid System -- Racing (THS-R) powertrain: a 3.4-liter V-8 engine is supplemented by a pair of electric motor/generators that can store electricity during braking, and subsequently release it for an acceleration boost. One of the cars will be driven by a team consisting of race drivers Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, and Kazuki Nakajima; the other hybrid racer will be piloted by Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson, and Sébastien Buemi.
Audi, meanwhile, will return to Le Mans in an attempt to win its 11th victory at the endurance race. Audi will continue to use its diesel-powered racers, as well as a special hybrid e-tron model that uses a flywheel energy storage system. Two of the race cars are the normal R18 Ultra models, powered by a turbodiesel 3.7-liter V-6 engine, while two others are the R18 e-tron with the aforementioned hybrid system. The cars were recently upgraded with a digital rear-view mirror, which uses cameras to combat the fact that the R18's cramped cockpit has poor rear visibility.
Audi should be in good standing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; the automaker's four race cars swept the first four finish positions at the Six Hours of Spa endurance race in May.
Sources: Audi, Toyota