Two months after the Le Mans 24 Hours, TOYOTA Racing will be returning to competition for the 6 Hours of Silverstone (August 26), fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Between races, the activity at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG), the team’s home base in Cologne, has been intense. The first stop of our visit: the workshop.
After Le Mans, some team members headed straight to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. They prepared the TS030 HYBRID #7 before heading to England, where Stéphane Sarrazin was at the wheel. After returning from Goodwood, the car was disassembled and cleaned before being inspected using various tests, which we will talk about shortly. The same was done with the #8, in which Anthony Davidson had his accident at the Mulsanne corner.
Located to the right of the main entrance of TMG, the workshop is accessible through a corridor which recounts the history of TMG up to 1999, focusing on the successful World Rally and endurance programs. At the entrance of the workshop are the offices where Team Manager John Steeghs has his workspace and it’s here that the parts are managed and schedules are established.
Six individual bays, all fully supplied with a huge variety of tools and equipment, are kept surgically clean by the mechanics and they form the heart of the workshop. In the first there is chassis TS030 12-01, damaged at Paul Ricard during testing. It is being rebuilt as a show car and will soon be sent to Japan. Next to it is chassis TS030 12-02, driven by Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima at Le Mans; team members are preparing it for the next test. TS030 12-03 is not far away, and the fourth chassis, which is in the final stages of preparation will arrive next week. In another bay, the style of car is totally different: a Lexus LS with custom bodywork, engine, brakes and suspension. The final bay is for servicing the many other types of car coming through TMG’s workshop, whether that is Lexus LFA road cars, the TMG EV P002 electric race car or something more confidential!
Part of the workshop is dedicated to component assembly and this is opposite these bays: when we visited, three TMG members were hard at work on the brakes, pedal system, steering and suspension, among other things. The Le Mans program is not the only task at hand; a TOYOTA Yaris R1A rally car is being prepared and work is taking place on a TOYOTA GT86.
Nearby, three other members work in the transmission department where one machine is used for calibration while another is dedicated to airtight testing. On the wall above these are gearboxes used through the years in F1 while next to this is the space used for preparing hydraulic and cooling systems. There is a tool for testing, cleaning, and an area for shock absorber assembly, this time with the steering systems conceived for F1 on the wall.
The workshop represents the current activities of TMG. Endurance with the TS030 HYBRID, rallying with the Yaris R1A, special developments with the Lexus LS and work on production cars such as the GT86. Above the workshop are the design, aerodynamics, engine and simulation offices, while on the wall outside the history of TMG in competition from 2000-2009 is displayed. The new chapter begun by the TOYOTA Racing program is a bridge from the past to the future of TOYOTA in racing.
Learn more about… the TMG workshop.
Surface area? 760m² in the main workshop, 600m² of additional working space.
The most impressive part? The mechanics themselves – they have so much knowledge and experience of WRC, endurance racing, Formula 1 and many other types of racing.
The newest part? We upgraded recently to add another vertical lift, to allow us to work underneath various road cars.
How many people work at the workshop? 19.
How many people attend the races? 14 (for two cars at Le Mans).
What’s the most difficult part of working at the workshop? The period before Le Mans, when the number of hours were numerous. It’s part of the job, and I like my work. The most difficult is when there is big time pressure or there’s something unforeseen.
The best? When the car takes its first few steps. We worked so hard to arrive at that moment! Like the roll out of the TS030 HYBRID, or the first turn of the wheels of the number three chassis, at the Le Mans airport.
What is your role, before, during and after a race ? Prepare the car, to verify that everything is ready. Help run the car, bring whatever modifications are necessary to the setup and pit stops. Disassemble the car, check it, reassemble it and training.
What are the various activities overseen by this department? Competition (endurance, rally), preparation, production cars.