Toyota TS050 Hybrid #8 – Spark

2020 Toyota TS050 Hybrid #8
Pilots: S. Buemi, B. Hartley, K. Nakajima 
Team: Toyota Gazoo Racing
Race: 1st overall (LMP1-H class) at Le Mans in 2020
Spark - 43LM20 (resin)

Published 01/28/22

Introduced for the 2014 season, the TS040 started well. At Le Mans it managed a third place and brought Toyota the 2014 World Manufacturers’ Championship. Toyota upgraded the car for 2015, and though being 2 seconds faster at La Sarthe, it was no match for Audi and Porsche. Therefore, in 2016 Toyota evolved the TS040 into the TS050. Like the TS040, the TS050 was also a hybrid, although instead of an atmospheric V8, it had a 2394 cm³ biturbo V6. Once again, however, Toyota could not beat the 919, coming in third at Le Mans. For 2017 things were even worse, when a TS050 Hybrid only managed eighth place. Despite the huge investment, Le Mans was still out of their grasp. Nonetheless, with Porsche and Audi out of the picture, things changed in 2018. Finally Toyota won Le Mans, the TS050 Hybrid being the second Japanese car to do so. 

From 2019 onward, the TS050 lost the rear-view mirrors above the wheel arches.

For 2019, with no other LMP1-H cars on the grid, the TS050 suffered with balance of performance (BoP) regulations. With that, Toyota could not stand still and developed the car even further. Moreover, with no pressure from other manufacturers, there was no need to modify the chassis. Even so, there was a lot that could be done to the aerodynamics of the car. In terms of power, even with all the BoP handicaps imposed, it was not necessary to alter the engine or the hybrid system. At La Sarthe, in June, the TS050 finished in first and second, and Toyota snatched the LMP1 World Endurance Championship. 

I can’t help myself and have to say it – BORING livery. Again.

In the following year, again with very weak competition, the TS050 Hybrid was the absolute favorite for all LMP1-H races. However, the imposed BoP was effective, to the point where Rebellion’s R13 became a bother. Even so, though not winning all the races in the series, Toyota took home again the World Endurance Championship. Moreover, at the 24 Heures du Mans the TS050 Hybrid came in first and third places overall. An interesting race due to the valiant efforts by the Rebellion cars, however the result was expected. Nonetheless, the 2020 was an historic race, since it was the last race for the LMP1 class. Toyota retired the TS050, and even issued a short farewell film for the car. After all, three outright victories at Le Mans is impressive.

A lot went by after that first class victory in 1999

The TS050 won three times at Le Mans, and brought Toyota two championship titles. Trophies notwithstanding, all those titles came in very light competition. That being the case, many people (and I include myself here), look down on Toyota’s achievement. Three overall victories at La Sarthe are commendable statistics, no doubt. However, I have the impression that if Audi and/or Porsche were still in the game, things would have been different. A win against those two (like what almost happened in 2016) would have been MUCH more impressive. Despite the (kind of) lack-luster victories on the track, in scale the TS050 Hybrid is a gem. As expected, Spark nailed the car, and it looks fantastic. So independent of the real car’s history, the model is great and represents the end of an era.

PS: For me personally, the last of the LMP1 winners is even more exciting because it was a Christmas gift from my lovely wife 😍. What can I say? I married very well 😊.

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