At Monza on Friday the presentation of this season’s new LMP1 cars took place. Over the course of this weekend, Toyota, Porsche and all the other WEC teams will be hitting the track for the official test session for the 2017 season.
Porsche 919 Hybrid
Porsche are once again the defending champions in LMP1. To be able to compete against the competition from Japan, the Stuttgart based team have completely revised the successful Porsche 919 Hybrid. With the new 900hp Le Mans prototypes, the reigning world champions will be aiming for a third Le Mans victory in a row and to defend the two World Championship titles for another year,
Because of the adapted rules, the body work has been reworked, as well as the chassis and power unit. “Overall, the share of the new developments for the 2017 season can be estimated to be 60 to 70 percent of the total vehicle,” said team boss Andreas Seidl. “The basic concept of the 919 Hybrid offers further scope for optimizing the details and increasing efficiency. The monocoque remained the same as in 2016, all other components were tested for their potential for optimization and most of them changed.”
The new Porsche 919 Hybrid completed it’s first kilometers in testing in Spain. The higher and wider wheel arches can be seen in a direct before-and-after comparison with the successful previous model. Looking from the side, you can see the adapted rear air intakes for the cooling.
“As a result of the regulation of the aerodynamic changes, we expect Le Mans to increase the lap times of three to four seconds,” Seidl said. “To what extent this will be compensated for by the various further development measures is not yet foreseen.”
Toyota TS050 Hybrid
The Toyota Gazoo Racing team also revealed their new car to the public before the Prologue. With the new TS050 hybrid the Japanese team will be aiming for their first Le Mans win and to retain the world championship they last won in 2014. In order to help their bid for Le Mans success, Toyota will for the first time in LMP1 bring three cars to the endurance classic.
Changes have been made in the fields of aerodynamics and performance. Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director of Toyota Gazoo Racing, said: “Our 2017 TS050 hybrid is a significant development. The only single component that has not been modified is the monocoque. We were able to show the potential of our car at several races in the previous year. But to achieve our big goal, we had to get more out of it. That’s why, in addition to profound aerodynamic changes, we have added to every area of performance and weight reduction. “Confidently, he added,” What happened to us last year at Le Mans was a very painful experience, so we have a special focus on quality control placed. There is no zero risk, so we have to work within the given risks, but for this year we have minimized them. The pre-season test runs were quite good in terms of performance and reliability, so we are confident. But we are also clear that we will have a tough competitor again.”
Apart from the monocoque, the Toyota TS050 Hybrid has been renewed in almost every area. Rob Leupen, who is responsible for the team, is also aware of the challenge in the new season. He said to Toyota, “This is an important season for Toyota Gazoo Racing in the WEC and we are ready to face this challenge. The teams at Higashi-Fuji and Cologne worked in tandem to improve the TS050 Hybrid in all aspects, and we also prepare ourselves for the challenge of using three cars in Spa and Le Mans. “
Despite Audi’s departure from the WEC, the fight for the world championship is not necessarily easier for Leupen: “Our goals are clear: we want to fight at the top, win the Le Mans win and win the world championship. These, of course, are ambitious goals when one has to deal with such a legendary competitor and we are of course aware that we have to be in top shape so that we can do it. There is no room for mistakes or any weaknesses. We are not going to be second, we are racing to win. We take this challenge as a team seriously”.
This weekend will be the first realistic comparison to see which team has the upper hand, as the prologue gives the the opportunity for 14 hours of head to head running around the Monza circuit in Italy.