TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s five Le Mans 24 Hours winning cars have been brought together for the first time to celebrate the centenary edition of the legendary race and create another piece of history on the road to Le Mans 2023. Since its maiden victory in 2018, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has preserved each race winner in the exact condition it reached the chequered flag, capturing the enduring challenge of 24 hours of flat-out racing at the moment of their greatest triumph.
To celebrate Toyota’s place in Le Mans history and mark another step on the way to the centenary edition, all five cars took pride of place at the final chicane of the Circuit de la Sarthe for a landmark photoshoot earlier this week. Since their victories, the 2018 winner has been housed at the team’s Cologne base, the 2019 car has proudly been on display in its home country, Japan, while the 2020 example was permanently loaned to the 24 Hours Museum, meaning the three victorious TS050 HYBRIDs have never previously been seen together. The winning GR010 HYBRID Hypercar from 2021 is usually located in Cologne, while the following year’s winner is on regular display to fans in Japan.
On the road to Le Mans 2023, four of the past winners travelled together and visited Toyota Motor Manufacturing France in Valenciennes. At the home of Yaris and Yaris Cross production in Europe, they were welcomed by some of the facility’s 5,000 employees, who sent good luck messages to the team before the cars continued their journey to La Sarthe. Once reunited with the 2020 TS050 HYBRID in Le Mans, the historic photoshoot began a milestone period in the history of the great race. All five Toyota cars, alongside 60 other winners, will be displayed as part of a unique retrospective at the 24 Hours Museum from 1 June to 2 July.
Additionally, the 2018 and 2022 winners will come to life one more time on Saturday 10 June when they join a highlight of the celebrations. The unique Centenary Parade of former Le Mans cars brings together legendary cars from the past hundred years for a nostalgic drive around the 13.626km circuit. Driving the cars will be two former winners with their own special place in Le Mans history, Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima. Alex, who will drive the 2018 TS050 HYBRID, remains the youngest-ever winner and spearheaded Toyota’s return in 2012, remaining a key team member even after his retirement from racing. Kazuki, now Vice Chairman of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe, was the first Japanese pole position winner and the only Japanese to win three times. He will drive the 2022 GR010 HYBRID.
During four seasons from 2016 to 2020, TS050 HYBRID cars competed in 34 WEC races, earning 19 victories for a 55% win ratio, and finishing on the podium a total of 46 times on the way to two manufacturer and driver World Championship doubles. As well as trophies, the TS050 HYBRID was a record-breaker and the most efficient Le Mans car of the modern era. Highlighting Toyota’s commitment to building ever-better motorsports-bred cars and advancing hybrid technology for its customers, the TS050 HYBRID achieved an unprecedented 10-second lap time improvement whilst using 35% less fuel compared to 2012, Toyota’s first hybrid Le Mans participation.
TS050 HYBRIDs won Le Mans three times and earned four pole positions, as well as recording for the fastest-ever lap, at an average speed of 251.9km/h by Kamui Kobayashi in qualifying in 2017, and the best race lap, set by Mike Conway in 2019 at an average of 248.6km/h. GR010 HYBRID cars have participated in 15 WEC races since 2021 and won 13 times, an 86%-win ratio, including the current five-race winning streak from the 2022 6 Hours of Fuji to last month’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The car is unbeaten at Le Mans, with consecutive one-two finishes in 2021 and 2022, each time after a clean sweep on the front row in qualifying. The first Le Mans 24 Hours took place in 1923, on a circuit featuring many of the same iconic features as today’s track. This year’s centenary edition will be the 91st running of the race, and the 25th time Toyota has taken on the Le Mans challenge, following its debut in 1985.