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Toyota TS010 Was a Group C Car That Could Break Your Ribs

The Story of Andy Wallace and the rib-breaking Toyota TS010

Throughout the years, automotive history has recorded many worthy achievements. Some of them praise the car, others praise the driver, and sometimes both. This was exactly the case with British racing driver Andy Wallace and the Toyota TS010, both of which literally share blood…or cracked bones. The most fanatic of car enthusiasts find some romantic aspect about a car that can hurt you, but was it really the car, the racetrack, or a combination of both that resulted in the incident?

The Toyota TS010

The Group C Le Mans racer was developed in order to comply with the new rules for the 1992 FIA World Sportscar Championship.

The car spawned in 1991 and introduced a new 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-10, code-named RV-10. The idea was to replace their previous Group C car, which had a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-8.

The new V-10 had five valves per cylinder and a 72-degree V-angle. The car itself served as a test bed for Toyota’s multi-valve technology. In max setting, the engine produced 700 horsepower. For racing at Le Mans, the engine needed to be de-tuned to 600 horsepower. The gearbox was a six-speed manual that sent power to the rear wheels. The Le Mans spec TS010 could achieve a top speed of 215 mph (346 km/h) and had a dry weight of 1,653.4 pounds (750 kg), thanks to a carbon-fiber monocoque.

Toyota TS010 specifications
Engine 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-10
Power 700 HP
De-tuned power 600 HP
Transmission six-speed manual
Top Speed 215 mph (346 km/h)
Weight 1,653.4 pounds (750 kg)

The story of Andy Wallace

Apparently, a car can break a man’s ribs without crashing, although some external factors still need to be in play. But don’t take my word for it. Andy Wallace – at the time test driver for Toyota – shared his story in an interview. It happened in February 1992 when a team of over 50 engineers and five test drivers camped at the Australian Eastern Creek race circuit for nine days of endurance and speed testing. “It was in February 1992 and Australia isn’t that far from Japan, so we camped out at Eastern Creek and did a nine-day consecutive test.”

Toyota TS010 Was a Group C Car That Could Break Your Ribs
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The TS010’s Sheer Downforce could also be a reason
The TS010 can produce 4,698 pounds of downforce at 180 mph and 5,800 pounds at 200 mph, and that’s at minimum aero settings!

To put things into context, the Eastern Creek circuit has a long straight, followed by a high-speed left-hand corner, which can be taken with 315 km/h (196 mph). The corner could be taken at full throttle, but there was a catch – a bump, which was right in the middle.

“It was the last day, and I went out in the morning. To set the scene the track has a long straight past the pits, into turn one which is a 310km/h left-hand corner, and right in the middle is a big bump. It is taken at absolutely wide-open throttle.” – Wallace explains.
Toyota TS010 Was a Group C Car That Could Break Your Ribs
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Andy Wallace Cracked two ribs when corning in the TS010
“I went through the corner and just felt this massive crack, and two ribs were broken instantly from just driving the car”

“I went through the corner and just felt this massive crack, and two ribs were broken instantly from just driving the car”. Andy explained how the same exact thing happened with the next driver - Hitoshi Ogawa. Just like with Wallace, towards the end of the first hour, at the very same spot, exactly the same thing happened to Ogawa.

Why it happened

Although this is borderline speculation, there is some tangible as well as scientific data to support the following text. There are three reasons:

Bone fatigue

Toyota TS010 Was a Group C Car That Could Break Your Ribs
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G-Force Shifting
While Wallace and Ogawa are speculated to have only felt the force of 5Gs when hitting that curve, the shift of the direction at such high speed could have caused their ribs to crack.

Just like a car’s chassis and mechanical components can experience metal fatigue, bones in the human body can experience bone fatigue. Of course, there is the fundamental difference that, unlike metal, bones can heal on their own and even become stronger, once fractured. This excludes major fractures, which almost always require surgical intervention.

Bone fatigue is caused by so called stress fractures. Among the main factors that may lead to that are intensive training – military conditioning, athletics, etc. and being exposed to extreme environments, like with Astronauts. Endurance racing can be viewed as one of the ultimate forms of competitive driving, as well as a form of extreme environment, so it is very possible for a bone fatigue to manifest in this scenario.

Toyota TS010’s sheer downforce

Toyota TS010 Was a Group C Car That Could Break Your Ribs
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Eastern Creek’s Turn 1 can be taken flat out with over 190 mph (307 km/h).

At 180 mph (290 km/h) the TS010 produces 4,698 pounds (2,131 kg) of downforce, while at 200 mph (322 km/h) it produces 5,800 pounds (2,631 kg) of downforce.

By the way, that’s the low-downforce setting. In maximum “corner carver” mode, those numbers are 7,288 pounds (3,306 kg) and 8,998 pounds (4,881 kg) respectively.
This means that, at 190 mph (307 km/h), the TS010 body can generate from 5,249 pounds (2,381 kg) to 7,298 pounds (3,310 kg) of downforce, depending on the setting.

The way the G-forces shift

Toyota TS010 Was a Group C Car That Could Break Your Ribs
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The absolute maximum G-force a human can experience is 9G and that’s only for a few seconds, due to the heart’s inability to pump the blood. While some suggest that the G-force, experienced by Wallace and Ogawa is in the neighborhood of 5G, it’s actually the rate at which G-forces shifted that has ultimately contributed to cracked ribs.

In Fighter Jets, pilots wear special G-suits, which prevents blood from pooling in their feet thus making it impossible to circle throughout the body. Although Formula One and Endurance pilots experience 5 to 6G in corners, on a regular basis, it is usually gradual. The bump at Turn 1 created a jolt, which translated into a rapid shift in G-forces. The resulting jolt, aided by potential bone fatigue and the sheer downforce of the TS010 ultimately caused the ribs of both drivers to crack.

How the TS010 went down in history

In the end, the Toyota TS010 was a capable machine, which had some racing success. Its redeeming quality was that even with an entirely new engine, it was reliable beyond both the engineers’ and the drivers’ expectations. After the nine days of testing (and breaking ribs), the Japanese engineers praised the car for being “stronger than the drivers”.

The Group C racer was eventually succeeded by the Toyota TS020 and, in turn, TS030. Andy Wallace himself said, “That Toyota, still to this day, is one of the best race cars I ever drove – it was amazing. It’s just unfortunate that Peugeot went and built one that was slightly better.”.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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