History of Toyota’s Le Mans race cars

In this post we chart the models and vital statistics of the race cars that Toyota has entered in Le Mans, the halo event in the World Endurance Championship calendar. It begins in the mid-Eighties, when Toyota supported affiliated teams such as TOM’S and Dome prior to embarking on full, factory-supported works campaigns.

Related information: History of Toyota Racing Development

Toyota-1985-84C-n36 Le Mans

TOM’S 85C

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1985 290 2,090 959 29 3:48.67 330

Our first challenge and first finish. The turbocharged Toyota TOM’S 85C entered the 53rd 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance championship in the FIA’s Group C category. The #36 car finished in 12th position, which marked the first time that a Japanese manufacturer had completed such a race at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Toyota-1986-86C-n36 Le Mans

Dome 86C

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1986 303 2,090 894 30 3:45.25 296

Toyota returned in 1986 with its now race-proven four-cylinder engine, run by team Dome. However, hopes for both cars were dashed. Reliability issues and regulations took both cars out of that year’s Le Mans race.

Toyota-1988-88C-n36 Le Mans

Toyota 87C

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1987 291 2,140 902 14 3:34.45 19

Evolved from the existing design, the new 87C was held on a short leash, with 1987’s Le Mans race being its only international fixture. It turned out to be a disaster, as both cars retired early in the race with mechanical issues.

Toyota-1988-88C-n37 Le Mans

Toyota 88C

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1988 357 2,140 907 10 3:26.57 283

Despite two years of setbacks, Toyota’s persistence at Le Mans was rewarded with well-deserved finishes for its two factory-backed cars in 1988: a respectable 12th and 15th in Group C1.

Toyota-1988-88C-n36 Le Mans

Toyota 88C / 89C

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1989 331 2,140 926 25 3:28.64 20

1989 marked Toyota’s first full season of racing in the World Endurance Championship. Of the three cars entered in Le Mans (one 88C and two revised 89C models), two had to withdraw following accidents, while the other suffered a mechanical issue.

Toyota-1989-89C-n37 Le Mans

Toyota 90C-V

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1990 307 3,168 941 10 3:37.13 347

This year saw Toyota made a big impression on the World Endurance Championship by securing its best-ever position at Le Mans, the #36 car finishing in sixth place.

Toyota-1993-TS 010-n36 Le Mans

Toyota TS010

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1992 336 3,500 801 5 3:29.30 346

Toyota pulled out all the stops in 1992, supplying three new TS010 and two 92C-V cars into the 60th 24 Hours of Le Mans race – our seventh attempt. The final battle resulted in Toyota securing second place, its long-desired podium finish.

Toyota-1993-TS 010-n36 Le Mans

Toyota TS010

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1993 331 3,500 774 2 3:26.14 365

With the news that the Japanese championship was cancelled, Toyota didn’t shelve its TS010 competitor but built a trio of new cars on the same chassis. The 1993 race (also joined by two 93C-V cars) saw the #36 car finish fourth.

Toyota-1992-92C-n34 Le Mans

Toyota 94C-V

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1994 313 3,576 967 4 3:53.01 344

Following the demise of Group C, in 1994 Toyota entrusted the 94C-V to Team Sard for entry in Le Mans in the LMP1 class. Having led for the majority of the race, victory appeared to be assured. However, last-hour problems meant the trophy unfortunately slipped from our hands. Still, second place was gratefully received.

Toyota-1995-Supra-n27 Le Mans

Toyota Supra LM

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1995 295 2,140 1,245 30 4:10.36 265

Toyota tried a different tack in 1996. In a bid to continue filling the vacuum created by the demise of Group C, we supported Team Sard in modifying a Japanese GT Championship Supra to suit Le Mans specifications. It was equipped with the highly tuned 2.1-litre four-cylinder engine it had successfully campaigned over the past decade.

Toyota-1996-Supra-n57 Le Mans

Toyota Supra LM

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1996 298 2,140 1,141 36 4:06.53 205

Team Sard returned to Le Mans in 1996 with its modified GT500 Supra but unfortunately was retired after an accident on lap 205.

Toyoya-1998 - GT One n29

Toyota TS020 (GT One)

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1998 323 3,600 924 8 3:40.47 326

The beautiful TS020 made its first competition appearance in the 1998 Le Mans race, qualifying in second. The three-driver team held second in the race until the final hour, when the #28 car was forced into retirement through transmission failure. The #27 car took the chequered flag in ninth position.

Toyoya-1998 - GT One n29

Toyota TS020 (GT One)

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
1999 333 3,600 900 8 3:35.03 365

Toyota returned to Le Mans in 1999 with a new white-nosed car and swept all competition aside to claim first, second and third places in qualifying. During the race, however, the #1 and #2 cars were sidelined by separate accidents, while the #3 car made rapid progress. It posted a new lap record on its way to another second-place finish.

Toyoya-2012-LMP1-n7

Toyota TS030 Hybrid

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
2012 332 3,400 897 5 3:25.49 134

Toyota celebrated its Le Mans comeback in 2012 by entering two TS030 Hybrid models in the top LMP1 category – both equipped with a new full-scale capacitor-based hybrid racing system which represented a merging of the best hybrid and motorsport technologies. In the end, unfortunate accidents meant both entries were unable to complete their Le Mans debut.

Toyoya-2013-LMP1-n7

Toyota TS030 Hybrid

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
2013 326 3,400 915 5 3:26.68 347

An identical name disguised a raft of alterations applied to the TS030 Hybrid to comply with new regulations. These include improvements to the chassis, powertrain and aerodynamic package to minimise the impact of regulatory weight increases. The 2013 Le Mans race netted Toyota both second and fourth-place finishes.

Toyota-2014-TS 040-LMP1-n8 Le Mans

Toyota TS040 Hybrid

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
2014 339 3,700 873 3 3:22.52 374

Now with a four-figure power output and four-wheel drive, the new TS040 Hybrid represented the most advanced technology in racing. Its naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V8 was paired with a similarly new super capacitor system that helped Toyota secure yet another podium – third place in the 2014 Le Mans race.

Toyota-2014-TS 040-LMP1-n7 Le Mans

Toyota TS040 Hybrid

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
2015 N/A 3,700 N/A 8 3:23.77 386

An updated TS040 Hybrid was unveiled for the 2015 season. Although its combined power output remained the same and it was in the same 6MJ race category, the super capacitor storage was more efficient. However, while reliable, that increased capacity brought additional weight and speed comprises, which was reflected in sixth and eighth positions in Le Mans that year.

Toyota TS050 Hybrid

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
2016 N/A 2,400 N/A 3 3:20.74 381

Significant regulation changes meant the new TS050 Hybrid was a very different animal to its predecessor. Now in the dedicated LMP1-Hybrid category, limitations were placed on energy consumption and fuel flow, which led to the introduction of a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine and 8MJ hybrid system running through lithium-ion batteries. This year’s Le Mans race delivered one of the event’s closest fights, with Toyota ultimately enduring a heart-breaking conclusion as victory slipped from our grasp in the closing moments.

Toyota TS050 Hybrid

RACING YEAR TOP SPEED (km/h) CAPACITY (cc) kerb WEIGHT (kg) GRID POSITION LAP TIME LAPS
2017 N/A 2,400 N/A 1 3:14.79 358

Toyota endured a painful 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, in which two of its TS050 Hybrid models failed to finish while the remaining car finished in ninth place. Later, as one of the higher ranked cars was disqualified, the #8 car was officially raised to eighth place.

What about this season’s TS050 Hybrid?

The 2018-2019 TS050 Hybrid is largely the same as the 2017 car above, which ended the season with three consecutive victories. As the key to success in endurance racing is reliability, every component was reviewed for the current super-season. However, the biggest change is the weight reduction of the battery and associated cooling system. Nevertheless, the power pack generates about 300kW – more than ten times that of a current Prius.

This super-season includes two visits to Le Mans. The first took place last year, where Toyota took the chequered flag in emphatic fashion, securing both first and second place. It was an historic first victory for Toyota in our 20th entry in this world-famous race – a victory we hope to replicate in 2019 to mark a fitting conclusion to a series in which we are already the world champion.

Learn more: Together at last – Toyota’s Le Mans car trio

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