2022 Toyota GR010-Hybrid #8 Pilots: S. Buemi, B. Hartley, R. Hirakawa Team: Toyota Gazoo Racing Race: 1st overall (LMH class) at Le Mans in 2022 Spark - 43LM22 (resin)
Toyota started its winning streak at La Sarthe in 2018. With the TS050 they won in 2018, 2019, and 2020. With the demise of the LMP1 class and birth of the hypercar class, in 2021 came the GR010. And once again Toyota came first. Not only that, but they also won FIA’s WEC in 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and in 2021. So to say that Toyota was dominating endurance racing would be an understatement. For 2022 they were back to La Sarthe, fielding the same GR010. Toyota Gazoo Racing, the manufacturer’s works team, arrived with two cars. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, the 2021 winners, received car #7 (chassis #20-04). And GR010 #8 (chassis #20-05) went to Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryō Hirakawa. Faced with very little opposition from Alpine and Glickenhaus, Toyota was (once again) the absolute favorite.
Though being the favorites, Toyota did not take any chances, therefore for the 2022 season they further developed the GR010. The power train, however, was the same hybrid system from 2021. Toyota used a 3500 cm³ twin-turbo V6 to power the rear wheels and electric motors for the front wheels. The system delivered 500 kW (671 hp) from the ICE plus 200 kW (268 hp) from the electric motors. Though the system was the same from 2021, for 2022 WEC mandated the use of 100% renewable fuel. That being so, the GR010 now drinks a biofuel made of wine and other agriculture residues, producing 65% less CO2. The updated car also uses different tire sizes and received quite a few aerodynamic tweaks. And since competition would be light, the GR010 received a more severe Balance of Performance (BoP) restriction than 2021.
This BoP mainly consisted of a tighter control over when and how the car could use the hybrid system. Nonetheless, even with a stricter BoP, it was a walk in the park for Toyota. Both GR010 exchanged the lead throughout the race, with no other car coming close to threatening them. In the end, GR010 #8 came in first while GR010 #7 came in second. In the top class, the 2022 race was one of the most boring Le Mans races I ever saw. Everyone (me included) thought that Toyota won because there was no opposition. And in 2023, with the diverse competition, that assumption kind of confirmed itself…🤔 Nonetheless, in scale the GR010 #8 looks (the usual) Spark-great. Even if the livery is friggin’ boring. Yet, since it’s an overall winner, for me it is a must buy.