Toyota Gazoo Racing are set to confirm plans seen by DSC to spring a major surprise in the LMP1 class at the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours.
The team intend to present two different versions of their 2018 TS050 at Le Mans: One with the regular streamlined version of the Toyota’s aerodynamic package, the other a truly extreme ‘wide tail’ concept.
At present the new concept is set to be seen on the #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso.
That has been made possible in the wake of an unintended error in the original version of the LMP1 technical regulations.
The current FIA WEC Regulations allow the factory to adapt their aerodynamic package for the 24 Hours but an unintended loophole in the technical regulations for the great race have presented an unparalleled opportunity for the Toyota squad as a source confirmed to DSC last week.
“The rules are clear. They are presented both in French and English with the proviso that the original French regulations take precedence. “As always we check both versions to ensure that we can exploit any opportunity that they present,” said a TMG spokesman from their Cologne HQ.
“Ironically in this case it was not a member of the technical team that spotted the opportunity but instead a local semi-professional gamer, he was looking at the baseline data encompassed in the regulations when he noticed some discrepancies in the French version, the measurements were wrong, giving a rather wider rear end maxima than we have previously seen!”
Toyota are understood to have immediately undertaken an investigation to see what opportunities the new dimensions offered and, after seeing downforce numbers one source confirmed to DSC were “truly extraordinary”, opted not to reveal their discovery until after the final regs were published.
The ACO became aware of the issue only very recently and, after considering the available options, have decided to delay correcting the error until the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours.
That’s a crucial point for two reasons.
It means that the 2018 TS050 VH (Verlängertes Heck – Extended Rear) is now confirmed as being legal for one Le Mans only.
It also means though that the car will not be eligible for 2019, by when the proposed narrowing of parts of the Mulsanne Straight to allow the installation of larger spectator banks at the site of the soon to be demolished Chinese restaurant just before the braking point for the first Mulsanne chicane, will have been completed.
LMP1 privateer teams were made aware of the issue at their latest technical working group meeting, the same error was not present in the regulations for the non-hybrid cars.
“I’m concerned that this will make the car more difficult to overtake, not only on performance grounds, but just because it literally fill the track,” said one LMP1 team’s Technical Director.
The TS050 VH will not be seen publicly until the Le Mans Test Day but is likely to significantly improve the pace seen by any previous LMP1 car, a sub 3:10 ultimate pace predicted by one knowledgable DSC source.
The render of the TS050 VH above by Daniel Hounsell has been produced utilising the incorrect numbers in the technical regulations.
DSC Ed: This was, of course, part of DSC’s April 1st offering this year!