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Toyota rules out new Hypercar for 2023 WEC season

The Japanese manufacturer has revealed that it will advance to the 2023 season when Ferrari, Porsche and Cadillac enter the WEC’s Hypercar class with a new update to the GR010 Hybrid introduced in early 2021.

The confirmation comes after speculation earlier this year that Toyota had a new LMH on the drawing board and was considering putting it into service as early as next year.

This would be allowed in the regulations: despite strict development limitations, a manufacturer can homologate a second LMH design during the lifetime of the category.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe Technical Director Pascal Vasselon said: “We will keep the GR010: we are learning and we are committed to making it better.

“We will make evolutions: our job is to make evolutions for whatever needs to evolve.”

Vasselon would not like to know if Toyota will introduce so-called ‘evo jokers’, which are modifications allowed in the name of performance.

A total of five of these are allowed during the lifecycle of an LMH project.

Vasselon admitted that Toyota was “using wildcards” for the second iteration of the GR010 that went into operation at the start of the current season, but declined to provide a number on how it was used.

The main change on the GR010 for 2022 was changing the 14-inch front and rear tires from the original 2021 version to 13.5-inch fronts and 15-inch rears.

This development did not count as a wild card because it was precipitated by a rule change in summer 2020 to align LMH cars with LMDh prototypes as part of the convergence process with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - LMP1 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – LMP1 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The minimum weight of the Toyota had to be reduced from 1100 to 1040 kg at a time when the car was already in production.

This change meant that the GR010 was unable to achieve the forward weight distribution needed to take advantage of the wider front tire and suffered from what Vasselon described earlier this year as “rear tire management issues”.

The 2022 GR010 also incorporates significant aerodynamic changes, including a taller and longer dorsal fin on the engine cover.

Vasselon said evolutions for the GR010’s third season at the WEC in 2023 will be “more subtle” than this year’s.

He suggested that they would be focused on “reliability, serviceability and ease of car maintenance”, which would not require the use of a wildcard.

Vasselon said the 2023 GR010 is not expected to start testing until January.

Asked if there is a brand new car in Toyota’s inventory, he said: “We can only confirm that we have people whose job it is to prepare evolutions of the car.”

The GR010 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the WEC drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in its inaugural 2021 season.

Toyota repeated their Le Mans victory this year, with Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa who are level on points with the Alpine A480-Gibson crew of Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and André Negrao at the top of the standings before the end of Bahrain final week.

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