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Could record attempt signal F1 return for Toyota?

NEWS STORY
02/08/2011

Toyota, which left F1 at the end of 2009, is about to attempt to set a new lap record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, which could herald the Japanese company's return to the sport.

However, before you go rushing for your white and red team gear, and Jarno heads off to Cologne, it should be pointed out that the record attempt is for an electronic vehicle (EV).

Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) has developed a high-performance electric powertrain and this will form the basis of the record attempt, which is provisionally scheduled for the end of the month.

The TMG 100% electric car, which is based on a two-seater sportscar chassis fitted with TMG's exclusive EV technology, has a top speed of 160 mph (260km/h) and can get from 0 to 62 mph (100km/h) in 3.9 seconds.

This car is ideal for a single-make EV championship and TMG is aiming to prove that green-thinking motorsport can generate emotion among fans by using innovative technology to deliver high performance.

The challenge is to break the existing EV lap record of 9:1.338 set earlier this year and already the TMG electric powertain has bettered this time during unofficial testing and it is expected to make a significant improvement during the official timed laps.

"We are extremely confident we can break the record by some distance," said Rob Leupen, TMG's Director of Business Operations, "which is an indication of how EV performance is continuously improving. TMG is a leader in high-performance powertrains and we want to show the world how far this technology has developed. Our mission is to advance this technology, not only in motorsport but in the automotive sector in general, to deliver products with more performance and better durability for our customers."

"TMG has developed a very robust and reliable electric powertrain, which has been proven in several products already," added Ludwig Zeller, TMG's General Manager Electrics and Electronics. "We have built up a tremendous amount of knowledge about such high-performance powertrains, particularly battery management systems and vehicle control units, during our development programmes. Our lap record attempt brings together this knowledge and it should clearly show the great potential of high-performance electric powertrains."

At a time when Formula One is increasingly looking at ways to become greener and sustainable, the FIA has announced its plans for a new high profile championship designed to be the flagship of its sustainable strategy, the Formula E Championship.

Amongst the keys aims of the championship is the desire to provide a technological showcase for the stakeholders involved, with a particular focus on established global car manufacturers, new entrants in the automotive market and significant regional players, and EV technology OEM companies.

It is intended that the series will attract wide public interest, including from non-traditional motorsport targets, with a particular focus on young urban audiences - indeed, events would be held in urban environments, possibly using the centre of major cities to build provisional on-purpose designed race-tracks.

Lola Cars International Ltd and Drayson Racing Technologies LLP recently announced the formation of an official partnership that will initially deliver an all-electric prototype race car, the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV. Lola Cars will have responsibility for developing the racing car chassis and Drayson Racing will have responsibility for developing the electric drivetrain.

The project aims to fast-track the development of a range of new and next generation technologies including an all-electric drivetrain and sustainably sourced composite parts for the B12/69EV. The ultimate goal of the Lola-Drayson partnership is to deliver an all-electric race car for the planned 2013 FIA electric car championship.

Of course, in 2014, F1 introduces its new V6 engine formula whilst also switching to all electric power in the pitlane. Does the E Championship and Toyota's record attempt at the Nordschleife signal big changes in the years that follow?

In the eyes on many, the Japanese manufacturer has led the way in terms of environmentally aware vehicles for the road, could it now be eyeing leading the way on the race track?

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