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Toyota Prototypes Returning To Le Mans

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, October 14 2011

The Toyota Le Mans Prototype.

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Racin’ Notes for Friday:

Toyota Motor Corporation announced its return to major sports car racing on Friday.

Toyota’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hours, 13 years after its last official participation, follows Porsche’s announcement that it is entering in the top category in 2014. Toyota and Porsche will join factory efforts by Audi and Peugeot at Le Mans and other top sports car races.

In 2012, Toyota will enter the 80th Le Mans 24 Hours with an LMP1 prototype which will be powered by a hybrid petrol engine developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.

The chassis has been designed, developed and built by the Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s High Performance Centre in Cologne (Germany) where the team will be based.

The size of the program and the exact name of the car will be revealed at a later date. Its shakedown will take place at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 followed by an intensive test program.

Jean-Claude Plassart, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “We’re very happy about Toyota’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Seeing another major manufacturer coming back to our event is always a great source of satisfaction. But above all, this entry is powered by a hybrid engine, which underlines the relevance of the work that the Automobile Club de l’Ouest had done on its regulations to open the door to new technologies. This incredible technological challenge shows yet again that in the mind of all the major players in the world automobile industry, the Le Mans 24-Hours event is still the benchmark test bed in motor racing.”

Chevrolet and its affiliated teams have started track testing the new direct-injected, twin-turbocharged Chevy IndyCar V-6 in preparation for Chevy’s return to open-wheel competition next year. As previously announced, Chevrolet will supply Chevy IndyCar V-6 engines to Team Penske, Andretti Autosport, and Panther Racing.

Chevrolet and its technical partners have met all of the development targets for the new powerplant. “In our last media briefing before the Indianapolis 500, I said that the new Chevy IndyCar V-6 would be up and running in June,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “I’m pleased to report that the engine fired up for the first time on June 16, and dyno testing began immediately. Since then we have focused on power development and durability testing to achieve the series’ goal of 2,000 miles between rebuilds.

“We acquired a new 2012 chassis from Dallara and completed the installation of the Chevy IndyCar V-6,” Kent reported. “The car made its first laps in a shakedown run at Putnam Park near Indianapolis on September 28, and we began track testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on October 4.”

The Chevrolet-powered IndyCar will make a demonstration run on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The initial oval-track test will then be conducted at LVMS in the days following the IndyCar season finale.

“We are looking forward to giving fans at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a preview of what IndyCar racing will look and sound like in 2012,” Kent said. “The change to turbocharged V-6 engines will be dramatic.

“We have an ambitious testing schedule through the remainder of the year,” Kent added. “The upcoming IndyCar tests will be open to all manufacturers, and we will have representatives from all of the Chevrolet teams in attendance. We plan to have a driver from every Chevy team try out the new engine and chassis package before the teams receive their new cars in mid-December.”

GM Racing is using a cooperative team strategy to accelerate development of the Chevy IndyCar V-6 engine.

“The test team is made up of individuals from each of our key partner teams, and we are operating as Team Chevy,” Kent explained. “This is a concept that we have carried over from our NASCAR program, which has made Chevrolet the most successful manufacturer in NASCAR history. While the teams are competitors on the track, we know that working together to solve common issues will provide a competitive advantage for all Chevrolet teams.”

Chevrolet is also creating the infrastructure to support its IndyCar effort.

“Many of the components of the Chevy IndyCar V-6 require long lead times to manufacture, and these parts are now in production,” Kent explained. “Our technical partner, Ilmor Engineering in Plymouth, Mich., has plans in place to distribute and maintain Chevrolet engines for our IndyCar teams.”

The new twin-turbocharged, direct-injected Chevy IndyCar V-6 racing engine is powered by renewable E85 ethanol fuel. Direct injection and turbocharging are fundamental elements of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar engine package, and both are key technologies in several powerful and fuel-efficient Chevrolet production cars today. Chevrolet’s best-selling model, the Cruze compact, and America’s favorite sports car, the Camaro, are two examples of key Chevrolet products powered with direct injection engine technology.

Chevrolet competed previously in Indy-style competition as an engine manufacturer in 1986-93 and 2002-05 with V-8 engines, winning 104 races, powering six driver champions, and scoring seven Indianapolis 500 victories.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, October 14 2011
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