The heart of the beast: what you need to know about the new TRS engine
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The biggest motorsport from last week was the unveiling of the next-generation Castrol Toyota Racing Series open-wheeler — the FT-60.
Come early next year, it will be hitting race tracks across New Zealand with a raft of promising international racing talent behind the wheel. With more complex aerodynamics and meatier rubber, lap records could well be in the category's sights. But, perhaps the most interesting element of them all is the engine.
A lot of the FT-60's construction is derived from existing products overseas. Unlike its FT-40 and FT-50 predecessors the platform is an existing one from Italian builders Tatuus. Known as the F-318 chassis, it complies with the latest FIA Formula 3 regulations.
The engine, however, will be developed locally.
It's set to be based on the 2-litre turbocharged 8AR-FTS [pictured above]; a direct and port-injected four-cylinder engine produced by Toyota and Lexus for their road cars.
This in turn is based on Toyota's 'AR' engine family, which dates back to 2008. In the 11 years since, they've helped propel almost 40 different models — including the current Lexus IS 300 and RC 300 F-Sport.
“We obviously wanted a Toyota engine,” laughed series manager Nicolas Caillol, while speaking to Driven.
“We also wanted to be as close as we can to the Formula 3 regulations, because we still have the idea up our sleeves to get the car homologated to maybe become an F3-original championship.
“It's an engine that'll be able to deliver the power we need. We're not changing too many parts, so being close to the standard parts means we can expect the same level of reliability that we got from the previous engine.”
The 8AR-FTS is set to produce between 265hp–285hp (200kW–212kW) officially, with an expected top speed of around 250km/h. Paired with a Tatuus platform that weighs just 600kg dry, the combination will be a potent one with a power-to-weight ratio familiar to those coming from similar formulae in Europe.
Being turbocharged, spectators should expect a very different engine note to the naturally aspirated 2ZZ-GTE that it replaces. Less revs, but hopefully more pops and bangs.
Development will largely be handled by Auckland-based David Gouk. He's been servicing and developing the category's engines since the first series back in 2005, with not one engine failure recorded across the 14 years since.
But, despite the local influence this engine will still be a global exercise. Currently, it's in its final phase of development, before being sent to Italy for the final phase of testing in July.
“It's a big project,” added Caillol. “Step one is getting the power we want from the engine, and the second step is somehow mounting it onto the car.
“The second step is done in collaboration with Tatuus obviously, because they're helping us integrate the engine with the chassis.
“Since December we've been working closely with them; meetings every week, making sure we tick all the boxes before we send the engine.”
While the 2020 Toyota Racing Series calendar has yet to be confirmed in full, the five round, five weekend schedule is expected to start at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell on January 17–19.
Invercargill's Teretonga Raceway and Hampton Downs Motorsport Park are set to follow, with either Pukekohe Raceway or Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupō to host round four ahead of the 65th running of the New Zealand Grand Prix, held at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon.