Toyota reveals Brendon Hartley's new Le Mans challenger, the TS050
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After a season on the sidelines, Brendon Hartley is once again back in the top tier FIA World Endurance Championship fold, only now instead of being with Porsche he'll don the colours of Toyota Gazoo Racing.
As previously reported, the Kiwi will join the Japanese team's driver line-up for the upcoming 2019–’20 FIA WEC season. It's since been formally confirmed that he will replace the outgoing Fernando Alonso, as co-driver to Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the team's No. 8 entry.
Now, the team have shown off the car that Hartley and co will wield; the updated TS050 Hybrid.
The main updates are aerodynamics-based, with Toyota's technical director Pascal Vasselon noting that there have been "minor modifications for reliability" under the wing-coated skin.
It's a bit of a swansong for the platform, as the FIA WEC prepares to adopt fresh 'hypercar' regulations for upcoming seasons. The rule-set is designed to tighten the gap between race car and road car — a gap once embraced by the presence of McLaren F1s, Mercedes-Benz CLRs, and the like.
“It was hard spectating at Le Mans, but it was crucial to observe and begin integrating with my new team,” said Hartley. “I fell in love with Le Mans when I first raced there in 2012 so, after missing two years, I can't wait to return.”
“Since Le Mans I had my first real test in the TS050 HYBRID and I am already feeling at home in the car and up to speed. [...] My goals are always personal rather than results based, so I want to perform at my best, although of course a world championship and a Le Mans victory would be nice.”
The LMP1 Toyotas will again be the cars to beat for the majority of the season, with no factory Porsche or Audi outfits to contend with. It's hoped that more established manufacturers will join the series off the back of the new regulations. Toyota and Aston Martin have both confirmed that they will compete.
The series kicks off with a pre-season Prologue day in Barcelona this weekend, with round one of the series following at Silverstone in September.