TOKYO, Mar 8, 2022 - (JCN Newswire) -  TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will defend its FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) titles with an updated GR010 HYBRID Hypercar, which begins with the 1000 Miles of Sebring in Florida next week where Fujitsu Limited and JFE Steel will join as partners.

A successful debut season in 2021 saw the hybrid-powered, 700PS Hypercar win the Le Mans 24 Hours and both World Championships. It returns to action for the six-race 2022 WEC season with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing determined to retain those crowns.

The 2022-specification GR010 HYBRID will utilise different tyre and wheel sizes compared to its predecessor. At the front, 12.5 x 18inch magnesium alloy RAYS wheels will hold 29/71-18 Michelin tyres while at the rear, 34/71-18 rubber is fitted to 14 x 18inch wheels.

As a result of this change, small modifications were required to the bodywork to maintain air flow and stay within the aerodynamic performance window required by regulations, the most visible being the enlarged rear wind end plates and engine cover fin.

While the GR010 HYBRID remains essentially unchanged under the bodywork, the settings of its 3.5litre engine have been adjusted to accommodate new 100% renewable fuel which is introduced to WEC for 2022. The fuel, made from wine residues and agricultural material, reduces CO2 emissions by at least 65% and contributes to ongoing efforts to increase sustainability in motorsport.

As well as adjustments to the car for the new season, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing also benefits from a revised management structure. At Sebring, Kamui Kobayashi will participate in his first race in his new dual role, as Team Principal and driver of the #7 GR010 HYBRID, alongside fellow World Champions Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.

Kazuki Nakajima began his role of Vice Chairman at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe, the operational base of the WEC team, in January following his retirement as a race driver. He will support team operations at races, as well as mentoring Ryo Hirakawa who joins the #8 line-up of Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley. Ryo, who competed in the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2016 and 2017, is ready for his first WEC season following comprehensive preparations at tests and in the driving simulator.

The team's challenge in WEC is enhanced this season by two new partners, Fujitsu and JFE Steel, whose logos will be prominently displayed on the GR010 HYBRID and driver overalls. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing welcomes Fujitsu and JFE Steel, and extends its sincere thanks to all partners whose loyalty is vital to its success in WEC.

The 2022 season officially kicks off with a two-day Prologue test on 12-13 March, which represents the first time for the GR010 HYBRID to drive at the 6.019km Sebring International Raceway, the historic birthplace of American sportscar racing.

Race week sees a true festival of endurance racing, when huge crowds gather at the former military airfield to enjoy an eight-hour WEC race on Friday evening, followed on Saturday by the 70th running of the legendary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, part of the US-based IMSA series.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's only previous visit to Sebring came in 2019, when a record crowd witnessed Sebastien, Kazuki and Fernando Alonso take victory, with Mike, Kamui and Jose completing a one-two for the TS050 HYBRID. The team targets a repeat of that result to make a perfect start to the 2022 season.

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