The first Japanese automaker to win the title twice with a self-charging hybrid electric vehicle—the TS050.
Toyota Gazoo Racing, the motorsport division of Toyota Motor Corporation, won the 87th Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race with a one-two finish, making it the first Japanese automaker to have won the Le Mans twice with a self-charging hybrid electric vehicle—the TS050. The 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans that took place on June 15-16, at the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans, France. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car endurance race.
The self-charging hybrid electric vehicle, the TS050 driven at the endurance event this year, has been further improved with a 1,000 bhp hybrid electric powertrain and mounted on the car to strengthen its reliability. The car that won the race was driven by Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso. The second place also went to a TS050, driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López.
Masakazu Yoshimura, MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor—the company sells the hybrid electric Camry in India—said, “Our self-charging hybrid electric vehicles have not only proved their performance on the roads, but also on the track. This win at the Le Mans stands testimony to that and reiterates our position as the world leader in self-charging hybrid electric technology.”
Thanks to a combination of a responsive petrol engine and powerful electric motor, self-charging hybrid electric vehicles are not just cleaner and efficient, but also generally have higher torque than petrol vehicles and are more economical to drive.
End of an era
The 2019 race marks the end of an era. It was the last year the race was headlined by Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) hybrids like the TS050. Next year onwards, Le Mans will run under new ‘hypercar’ rules, designed to encourage manufacturers to race their fastest road cars. In fact, Aston Martin will bring its Valkyrie hypercar to the race in 2020, making it far more entertaining and competitive than it is today.