This year marks Toyota Racing’s third visit to Le Mans, but it’s the sixteenth time Toyota cars have participated. Since 1985, 40 individual cars have raced there, with best finishes of second place in 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2013.
The No 7 Toyota, the fourth place finisher last year, is driven by Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima; the No 8 car, the 2013 runner-up, is piloted by Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi.
The front and rear electric motors provide 353kW of boost, with energy stored in a super capacitor and the remaining 382kW is generated by a new-for-2014, 3.7-litre petrol engine, driving the rear wheels. Toyota Racing will be entering two TS040 hybrid cars at Le Mans, showcasing cutting-edge hybrid technology that delivers more power, yet reduces fuel consumption by a quarter, compared to 2013.
On the other hand, the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro diesel hybrid sports car is fuel-efficient with a 30 percent lower fuel consumption than that of competitors’ per 100 kilometres.
Audi developed a fundamentally new sports prototype for 2014. The leading innovations include the Audi laser light, and this pioneering technology further improves active vision and is simultaneously introduced in the Audi R8 LMX. For the powertrain, Audi - in the 25th year of the TDI engine - has developed a new 4.0-litre V6 unit for Le Mans. The current race car consumes about 40 percent less fuel and this amount to 6.16 litres less per 100 kilometres than the gasoline engines of the challengers, Toyota and Porsche, are allowed to consume.
Last year’s winners, Loïc Duval and Tom Kristensen, who is the Le Mans record holder with nine victories to his credit, are sharing the number 1 R18 e-tron Quattro with Lucas di Grassi. Car number 2 is driven by Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer, who won the race in 2011 and 2012. At the wheel of car number 3 is the Le Mans rookie, Filipe Albuquerque and he’s sharing the cockpit with Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis.
After an absence of 16 years, Porsche once again returns to the top LMP1 category at Le Mans, the return of Porsche to the top LMP class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) presents noteworthy challenges, the most significant one is that it doesn’t have experience or data to refer to from previous years racing at the top level (outside the GT category).
In 2013, the Le Mans winner covered 348 laps. Calculated over the same distance the new 919 hybrid generates and uses 581.2kW – an electric output which would run a 60-watt light bulb for a staggering 9 687 hours.
The two Porsche 919 hybrid cars with start numbers 14 and 20 will be driven by two trios of drivers: Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland), Marc Lieb (Germany) and Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand), Mark Webber (Australia).