Toyota was an active participant in Group C racing from 1982 through 1993. The early years were not very rewarding for the team, but as the years progressed, the prospects improved. For 1992, rule changes in the World Sportscar Championship meant Toyota was forced to replace their previous series of Group C sportscars with a new model. The previous sportscars, known as C-V was powered by the R36V 3.6 liter twin-turbocharged V8. The new rules required a 3.5 liter naturally aspirated V10. The new 3.5 liter rules were meant to help attract some of the major manufacturers from Formula 1 (using the same displacement limit).
With the requirements for a new engine, a whole new chassis was also necessary in order to accommodate and handle the V10. The design was courtesy of former Tom Walkinshaw racing designer Tony Southgate. It was given a more aerodynamic and longer body then the C-V series of sportscar. 'Ground effects' were still legal. New body panels were used to cover the carbon fibre monocoque and the suspension system was comprised of double wishbones. The new car was dubbed the TS010.
The V10 engine was given five valves per cylinder. It was built from aluminum alloys and had a V-angle of 72 degrees. Total horsepower output was over 700 horsepower, but for reliability purposes, it was tuned-back to around 600 horsepower. The engine was mated to a six-speed gearbox.
The inaugural racing debut for the TS010 was at the Autopolis 430km race in Japan in late 1991. It was joined by other 3.5-liter Group C cars including Jaguar, Peugeot, and Mercedes-Benz. When the checkered flag dropped, the TS010 was in sixth position, just three laps behind the winning car.
During the off-season, the Toyota engineers continued to fine-tune and develop the TS010. For the 1992 season, Toyota's main competition came from the Peugeot 905, which had been introduced late in 1990. Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar had both withdrawn from the world championship. Jaguar presence was still felt, as the Judd engined Mazda MXR-01 continued to compete. By the start of the season in Monza, Toyota had prepared four chassis. They decided to run two cars while a third car would be used during practice. At the race, Toyota was able to secure its first victory after the leading Peugeot crashed out. Toyota TS010 with chassis number 002 was one of the few cars to finish the rain-soaked race while being piloted by Geoff Lees and Hitoshi Ogawa. TS010 number 004 was badly damaged in an accident early in the race.
Throughout the season, the Toyota's and Peugeots were closely matched, provided plenty of completion for each other. Peugeot had the slight advantage since their car had more years of experience.
The third round of the championship was the 24 Hours of LeMans. The old Group C cars were still eligible to compete, so Toyota brought three TS010s and a V8-engined 92C-V. Toyota would finish in second place and would set a fastest lap.
During the final three rounds of the championship, the Toyotas finished on the podium every time, though Peugeot claimed the most important 1st spot.
The 1992 season had been shortened from ten races to six. At the close of the season, it was announced that the 1993 World Sportscar Championship was cancelled. The Toyotas returned to LeMans in 1993, with five cars on the starting grid. Two of the cars were new TS010s while the other two were old Group C cars which had been upgraded to 93C-V specification. One of the Toyota's retired prematurely, while the other TS0101s finished in fourth, fifth, sixth, and eight. The Peugeot's had claimed Pole Position and a 1-2-3 victory.
Toyota continued to develop the cars, including building an open prototype racer, though it was never raced. In 1998, Toyota returned to LeMans with the TS020 (also known as the GT-One) where they finished in an impressive second position.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2013