Significant rule change for Toyota

We usually try to keep the Balance Of Performance discussion away from the content.

It has been an essential part of sportscar racing, where the GTE cars have been adjusted to race equally, no matter if it was physically bigger or smaller, or the difference of engine configuration.

With the introduction of the Hypercar category in 2021, we saw the arrival of BOP in that category too, where it previously was called Equivalence of Technology. Two names – more or less the same aim, of making cars being able to race equally, no matter their engine and potential hybrid system.

There was a rule that Toyota Gazoo Racing only was allowed to activate their hybrid system at 120 kph on dry tarmac – unless the car was on limp-home mode, and on the way back to the pits. If so, it wasn’t allowed to exceed 120 kph at any point. If they put on rain tires, that minimum speed was between 140 and 160 kph, before the activation was allowed.

Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid 2022
Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

There is a significant chance for the 202 in regards to that. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has the possibility of deciding when exactly the hybrid system kicks in, which in the case of Toyota Gazoo Racing means the front-wheel drive. At the 1000 Miles of Sebring, which is run next week, that minimum speed is 190 kph for Toyota Gazoo Racing, no matter if it’s dry or wet tarmac. So the hybrid system at Sebring will more have the function of a range extender than an actual boost, which the system traditionally has appeared to be.

It’s currently only Toyota Gazoo Racing running a hybrid system in the FIA WEC. Alpine Elf Team and Glickenhaus Racing are both running cars without any kind of hybrid. When Peugeot TotalEnergines arrives later this year, they will run a front-wheel-drive hybrid system as well, just like Ferrari on their 2023 car. The LMDh models, which will be introduced in 2023 too, will have a common hybrid system, with the energy being transferred to the rear wheels.

The ACO has the option to adjust the minimum activation speed of the hybrid system from race to race, so there might be a chance for the other five FIA WEC rounds this year.

We’re not going to dive further into the BOP adjustments on either Hypercar or GTE prior to the 2022 season, since the basis of the changes hasn’t been made public by the ACO, leaving us with no real insight into what it actually means compared to the 2021 performance. All these changes are depending on the number of full-throttle per lap, and how far above sea level, that each track is located, which means a lot for the naturally aspirated engines vs the turbo engines. So we won’t go into that part of the discussion here.

The FIA WEC opening round will be run on Friday 18 March, with the Prologue being run on 12 and 13 March on the very same Sebring International Raceway.

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