Toyota has revealed it has been simulating random failures in its testing programme in order to better prepare itself for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Technical director Pascal Vasselon explained that the Japanese marque has been trying to improve the way it handles unexpected issues during the 2018-spec TS050 Hybrid’s first endurance test at Aragon.
The drive comes in the wake of the technical problems that have cost Toyota clear shots at victory at Le Mans in the last two years.
It famously lost victory in the French classic with three minutes to go in the 2016 event due to a turbo problem, while a clutch failure and a front axle-motor issue accounted for the hopes of its two leading cars in last year’s race.
“What we’ve changed really is the way we prepare Le Mans,” Vasselon told Motorsport.com. “We spent a lot more time dealing with unplanned situations – unplanned repairs, unplanned problems.
“We really took time for the team to put them in situations that are not normal, because this is where we failed. For example, we say we have suddenly broken the rear-right driveshaft.
“We decide the radio fails, and we see how the driver and the team react. We cause fake problems.
“We have failed on problems that were unusual. And the team has not handled perfectly these situations. Some of them were difficult to handle, but you can always do better.”
Vasselon added the lack of factory competition in the LMP1 class this season has changed Toyota’s approach, particularly as the performance levels of its privateer opposition remain unknown.
“Le Mans is a challenge in itself,” he said. “In the last four years, we could have won three times [2014, ’16 and ‘17], but we lost because we had issues that we did not manage properly.
“This year, we just go to fight Le Mans, not directly our competitors. That’s our challenge.”
Vasselon also revealed that the reduction in the TS050 Hybrid’s fuel capacity to 35.2kg (down from 44.1kg in 2017) meant Toyota would be targeting 11-lap stints at Le Mans.
“We will do three laps less [than in 2017], so we will do 11 laps,” he said. “We will have seven or eight more pitstops more [over the course of the race].”
Toyota will continue its test programme next week at the Portimao circuit in southern Portugal.