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Is a Tremendous GT automobile now quicker than a WEC Hypercar?

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It is no secret that the GR010 Hybrid is a good bit slower than its all-conquering predecessor, the three-time Le Mans 24 Hours-winning TS050 Hybrid. That ought to come as no shock contemplating that the intention of the WEC’s rulemakers, the FIA and the Vehicle Membership de l’Ouest, was for lap occasions across the Circuit de la Sarthe to extend by 10 seconds.

However a look on the lap occasions set by the 2 Toyotas from the opening spherical of the WEC season at Spa received this author questioning: is the brand new GR010 nonetheless even the marque’s quickest racing automobile? Or is, in truth, the Toyota GR Supra GT500 that races in Tremendous GT, quicker? 

Earlier than we reply that query, it’s vital to focus on simply how totally different the new Hypercar guidelines to which the GR010 is constructed are in comparison with the {old} LMP1 rules. The primary distinction is minimal weight: the TS050 Hybrid (earlier than success ballast was added) weighed in at 878kg, however its successor suggestions the scales at 1040kg – 20kg greater than the GR Supra.

The GR010 can be considerably much less highly effective than the TS050, and solely options hybrid energy on the entrance, reasonably than via all 4 wheels.

So, it must be no shock that the GR010’s occasions in qualifying for the Spa WEC opener had been a lot slower than the pole occasions set by the TS050 in earlier years. 

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To get an correct comparability, we need to ignore the 2020 Spa race, as a result of on that event each Toyotas had been operating with important success ballast as a part of the principles to permit the privateer, non-hybrid LMP1 vehicles to compete with the TS050s. As an alternative, we’ll use the 2019 race (the second Spa spherical of the 2018-19 ‘superseason’) as a reference. 

2019 Spa WEC pole time: 1m53.683s  

2021 Spa WEC pole time: 2m00.747s (+7.064s) 

That’s a important distinction. In reality, the pole time for this 12 months’s race set by the Toyota is slower than the quickest time from 2019 within the LMP2 class, a 2m00.674s. It’s little surprise the LMP2s had been solely barely slower than the Hypercars at Spa this 12 months, even after having their speeds lowered within the pursuits of conserving the 2 courses aside on monitor.

Now, we will’t know for certain how briskly a GT500 automobile would go round Spa, and we most likely by no means will. However we do know the way quick a GT500 automobile can go round Fuji, and we additionally know the way quick the TS050 LMP1 automobile went at that monitor.

On the WEC’s final go to to Japan in 2019, the pole time was a 1m24.822s, however that was with the TS050 carrying success ballast. The 12 months prior, when the Toyotas had been operating in a near-optimum state by way of the principles, the pole time was a 1m23.203s. 

If we take the hole between the TS050 LMP1 and GR010 Hypercar lap occasions at Spa and modify it for monitor size (Spa is round 1.5 occasions the size of Fuji), we get a spot of 4.507s. Add that to the marginally quicker 2018 pole time, and also you get a lap time of 1m27.710s. 

Evaluating that to Kenta Yamashita’s pole time in an unballasted GR Supra GT500 at Fuji on the finish of final season (1m26.386s), and the GR010 falls quick by 1.324s, which is effectively inside the margin of error for differing circumstances.


Photograph by: Yasushi Ishihara / Motorsport Images

So the place does the GT500 automobile make up the time, contemplating it’s virtually the identical weight because the hypercar, and (at the very least in line with Toyota’s personal figures) is much less highly effective by round 100 horsepower? The 2 important elements are tyres and aerodynamics. 

Firstly, tyres: as Tremendous GT is likely one of the solely championships left worldwide that enables open competitors, the tyres are extremely grippy, particularly on the subject of a single lap, and are at all times evolving.

For the perfect proof of this, have a look at the large distinction in laptimes seen when the GT500 vehicles switched to Hankooks for the DTM x Tremendous GT Dream race at Fuji, at the very least within the dry check classes earlier than the rain arrived. As a aspect notice, the {old} Class One-based DTM vehicles had been within the area of 5 seconds down in qualifying on the GR010’s pole time after they raced at Spa final 12 months.

Tremendous GT tyres additionally solely need to final for a single stint, whereas within the WEC, the Michelins utilized by the Hypercars should final for at the very least two stints in race circumstances, generally extra. 

Then there’s the aerodynamics, which at the moment are a significant weak spot of the Hypercar. Within the LMP1 period, Toyota may use high- and low-downforce aero packages over the course of a season, with the low-downforce equipment designed for Le Mans and the high-downforce equipment reserved for the opposite, extra typical tracks that make up the remainder of the WEC calendar. 

Now, groups should use a single aero package deal for the entire season, and which means the GR010 has needed to be designed to work predominantly at Le Mans, with its many extraordinarily lengthy straights, even on the expense of its efficiency round shorter tracks. 

So, whereas a GT500 automobile would virtually actually be quicker over a scorching lap than a Hypercar at Fuji, and presumably at Spa, round a monitor like Le Mans it might be a very totally different story. The highest pace benefit of the GR010, and the comparative lack of high-speed corners for the GR Supra to make up the misplaced time, would go away the GT500 machine trailing far behind.

As issues stand, we’ll have to attend at the very least a 12 months earlier than we will get a precise lap time comparability between the GR010 and the GR Supra GT500, when the WEC (hopefully) returns to Fuji in 2022.

However for now, round most tracks, it is secure to conclude that it is the latter machine that will come out on prime in a one-lap shootout.

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