Prototypes or prototypical instances combine the most representative attributes of a category. A prototype is the stage before the final design. They are the best examples among the members of a category and serve as benchmarks against which the surrounding "poorer" instances are categorized.
It looks like Toyota, after a very huge hiccup, is set to return to the world of Lee Mans racing. Its pair of TS030 Hybrids have completed their first testing run at Cirque De La Sarthe – the name of the 24 Hours of Le Mans track. This test wasn’t just any test either. The all-new hybrid tested very well, as both cars finished the 10 laps required to qualify and the fastest lap amongst the two was 3:27.204, which was only 1.277 seconds slower than the fastest car (the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro).
The only issues with the run that Toyota Motorsport GmbH reported were a few bits of “minor bodywork damage,” which the team didn’t elaborate on in its press release. Other than that, the test was a complete success for the Toyota team, but it was down its main driver, Stéphane Sarrazin, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. Sarrazin is expected to be ready to resume driving duties before the race starts next week, so everything is looking good for Toyota. With Sarrazin missing, Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima were behind the wheel of the No. 7 car, and the No. 8 car had Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi piloting it.
With all of the new cars, like the Toyota TS030 and the extremely intriguing Nissan DeltaWing, this 24 Hours of Le Mans is sure to be a fun one to watch. The race starts on Saturday, June 16th and the green flag drops at 3:00 p.m. Le Mans time, which is 7:00 a.m. EST.
Click past the jump to read Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s full press release on the debut.
This year, we’ve already seen some of the race cars that will be competing in the event, and now Toyota is jumping into the fold with their Pikes Peak offering, the Toyota Motorsports EV P002 prototype race car.
The EV P002 is based on the Radical sports car chassis and has been fitted with a 42-kWh lithium ceramic battery pack that’s charged by an off-board DC system, netting an output of 470 horsepower and 664 lb/ft of torque with a top speed of 149 mph. Pretty intense for an electric race car, right?
The competition at Pikes Peak is pretty intense, that much we know. But these boys clearly are no pushovers, having already made a name for themselves by with the EV P002’s predecessor, the EV P001, which incidentally set the fastest EV lap at the Nurburgring last year.
If the EV P001 was capable of that, it’s pretty exciting to think what it’s successor can do at Pikes Peak.
The Le Mans 24 Hours races may not be the pinnacle of the racing world, but they certainly separate the men from the boys and women from the little girls. For the most part, over half of the field ends up retiring before the race ever finishes and the ones that do finish are completely exhausted – both car and drivers – by the time the race ends.
Audi has seemingly always been a part of the Le Mans 24 Hours and has earned tons of success in the race. In the 2011 running, Audi was set up to fail, as two of its three cars were forced to retire early due to freak accidents on the track. Truth in 24 II, narrated by none other than British bad-ass action star Jason Statham, documents the running of the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours race and how the last remaining Audi managed to overcome all of the competition, including three Peugeot 908s, to take home the overall No. 1 position.
What’s even more awesome is that Audi is providing both Truth in 24 and Truth in 24 II completely free of charge. You can download the debut Truth in 24 here, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then snag up Truth in 24 II here. It’s not too often that an automaker gives you something this cool for free, so take advantage of these free movies while you can. They are simply awesome.
Back in 2007, a well-planned three-way deal between Renault, Nissan and Daimler brought these three automotive powerhouses together. This deal wasn’t necessarily massive, as it only resulted in Daimler getting a 3.1 percent share of Nissan and Renault, and Nissan and Renault getting 1.55 percent of Daimler each. Basically this deal was just to allow the three automakers to freely share their technologies and testing.
It looks as if Renault is pretty close to calling on Daimler to make good on its deal, as Renault is working on a new flagship sedan that will use some Mercedes-Benz parts. This new flagship model is not all Renault is looking ahead to, as the French automaker is also debating releasing an entire lineup of luxury car with Daimler’s help.
The details are still rather sketchy, as they are still in preliminary talks and a lot of the information is from unconfirmed sources. One of the names for the new make that is being tossed around is Initiale Paris, which was once used on a 1995 Renault concept car.
Image Note: The images used are of the 1995 Initiale Paris concept car
Prior to his death, ex-TVR owner, Peter Wheeler, decided that despite the fact that he no longer owned TVR, he still had the fire to build wild and crazy cars. From that fire began the project that he dubbed the Scamander, which is named after the Greek river god. This amphibious machine came to life just before Wheeler’s death, but it was a very rough machine that still needed a lot of work to be perfect.
After his death, Wheeler’s wife and a group of engineers completed Wheeler’s project and made it into something that Wheeler would have been proud of. This RRV, as Wheeler called it, has a V-6 turbocharged engine that cranks out about 300 horsepower and is said to hit 60 mph in eight seconds. To boot, it has an impeller on its rear end for propulsion in the wet stuff. This impeller certainly beats the rear wheel-mounts paddles that were on the original prototype Scamander.
Image note: The images provided are of the concept version of the Scamander.
One car, in particular, that caught our attention is this 1995 BMW M3 Coupe. On any other day, cars like this probably go unnoticed, but this one is pretty cool because it’s set to compete at Pikes Peak.
Tuned to race by EV West, this M3 Coupe has been stripped down of pretty much everything that it won’t need on a racing set-up. What it does have now are a number of racing components, including a bucket racing seat, a full-body roll cage, a huge rear wing fitted on the trunk, plenty of carbon fiber panels, and a new set of 17" lightweight wheels.
To ensure that the their M3 Coupe can compete with some of the quirkiest and more powerful Pikes Peak-bound cars competing in the annual hill climb, EV West took out the car’s standard 3.0-liter inline-six engine and replaced it with a twin-air cooled electric motor that produces a staggering 400 horsepower and an even more staggering 700 lb/ft of torque.
Not only does the Nissan DeltaWing prototype resemble something out of batman rather than a racer which will take up a grid position at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, but it may also suggest what the future of racing could look like. Unfortunately for many motoring enthusiasts, that does include the elongated, tapered front end and the aircraft inspired hind quarters.
However, the effectiveness of this design will not be proven until after the Le Mans endurance race and despite the car being largely experimental, the guys over at Top Gear recently teamed up with English car customizer, Andy Saunders, to produce a replica of the DeltaWing concept.
Andy Saunders is no rookie when it comes to producing the weird and wacky, and his very own DeltaWing will be testament to the belief that what’s worth doing, is worth overdoing. In order to create the one-off piece of art, Saunders will search the scrap heap for components which not only resemble certain elements of the original but can also be tweaked to get the look just right.
So far, Saunders has borrowed the wheels from a Ford Mondeo, the rear axle from a Ford Escort, and has combined components from the Fiat 126 and Morris 1000 bonnet to shape the rear deck of the car.
And that list will continue to grow as the rear pod sections will be created from old Mazda MX-5 bumpers, while the “DeltaWing kick-ups on the rear” will be formed around the air intakes of Australia’s last F1 champion, Alan Jones’ 1975 Formula One racer.
It’s currently unclear what engine, drivetrain, and transmission Saunders plans to utilize for the car, but you can be sure of two things: they’ll be recycled and when finished, the Top Gear DeltaWing will be significantly heavier, less powerful, and slower than the real racer.
Nonetheless, we respect Saunders’ ambition and wish him all the best!
The new car, which we now know as the Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special, looks like an actual LMP1 prototype with plenty of GoPro cameras installed on it. The blue LED stripe headlights even add a mix of Batmobile and K.I.T.T from Knight Rider to it.
Having said all of that, the Monster Sport E-Runner Pikes Peak Special means serious business as Tajima is looking to set not only the electric car record, but also best his own record time in the Unlimited class. Tajima, a six-time defending champ in Pikes Peak, will most certainly be one of the top contenders this year, even if he’s going to pilot a new toy that a lot of people know little about.
From what we do know about the car, it looks like it’s been given the full-on carbon fiber treatment, complete with a pod-like driver capsule that’s encased by a full-on roll cage. Those aforementioned LED lights are also an attractive sight as are the matching set of blue rims. Meanwhile, the plethora of vents and scoops on the car’s body clearly suggests that the racer is ready to throw down at Pikes Peak next month.
Different car, same results, right?
With Monster Tajima behind the wheel, we’re not about to doubt that.
Volkswagen-owned Skoda doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. Maybe it’s because under the VW umbrella, there are a lot more high-profile brands to choose from.
Nevertheless, the Czech automaker is still worthy of our attention, now more than ever, actually, considering they’re bringing a pretty radical rally car concept to the 2012 Worthersee show.
The vehicle, called the Citigo Rally Concept, is based on the three-door Citigo hatchback. As a rally designed vehicle, the Citigo Rally Concept comes with its fair share of rally-spec modifications, including a ventilated hood, an aggressive front bumper, extended side skirts, a huge rear spoiler, a center-mounted exhaust system, and last but certainly not least, a new set of 18" wheels with low-profile tires.
Performance modifications are also expected to be part of the Citigo Rally Concept’s overall make-up. Skoda has yet to provide information on what kind of powertrain it’s going to have, but rest assured, we’ll be ready to provide all the necessary updates when the information becomes available.
It’s not the most fashionable or most powerful concept vehicle BMW has been involved with, but as far as significance is concerned, it just might be one of the most meaningful car projects that they’ve been a part of.
The concept vehicle is called the Visio.M MUTE, a prototype vehicle developed by Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) that now has the involvement of partners from the German auto industry, spearheaded by BMW. The concept is being pegged as a vehicle for the future, one that is being developed to determine the feasibility of developing an efficient, mass-market electric vehicle that ensures the same level of safety and affordability as the combustion vehicles of today.
The project recently received €10.8 million ($14.1 million at the current rates) in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The Visio.M MUTE is the prototype model that will play a critical role in determining how it can handle new technologies in logistics, crash safety, propulsion, and energy storage for a future, mass-produced vehicle.
As it currently stands, the car only carries and output of 20 horsepower and weighs only 400 kg without batteries. It certainly won’t break any speed records anytime soon, but in terms of significance, the Visio.M MUTE could be one of the most important concept vehicles to come out in recent years.