Toyota has uncovered the latest weapon in the quest to supply it with an elusive first Le Mans 24 Hour victory.
The all-wheel-drive TS040 Hybrid is designed by Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, Germany, and is currently undergoing testing for the WEC (World Endurance Championship) season which includes the La Sarthe classic as its defining round in June.
Toyota will campaign two TS040 P1 cars with the latest hybrid technology reported to deliver a lift of 18 per cent in power and a 25 percent fuel consumption saving.
The cars peak at 735kW through a combination of electric power and a larger 3.7litre V8 petrol engine.
Major differences to the iterations that has supplied Toyota with five WEC victories in recent seasons, is the harvesting of more braking energy that is stored in a super capacitor that can be redelivered under acceleration.
The TS040 hybrids gain safety improvements at the same time realising a reduced maximum weight.
Team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said: “We are competing in order to test the latest hybrid technology in the most extreme motorsport environments, and this has a direct influence on future road-car technology.”
“I am very proud that data, knowledge and technology pass regularly from our racing program to our research and development colleagues,” he said.
Toyota engineers have been able to reduce drag co-efficient but also increase downforce grip to offset the 50mm narrower tyres over last season.
The permitted width for 2014-spec LMP1 prototypes has been cut by 100mm while the maximum weight is down by 45kg.
Toyota has held onto its exisiting drivers although Stéphane Sarrazin joins Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 car, swapping with Nicolas Lapierre who moves to the #8 car with Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi.
The TS040 Hybrid has completed 12 days of testing across Europe, covering around 18,000km.
Toyota will order a final test session ahead of the Silverstone 6 Hour race which kicks off the WEC season on April 20.
The only Japanese manufacturer to taste outright success at Le Mans is Mazda with its 787B which thwarted the Walkinshaw-led Silk Cut Jaguar charge in 1991.