Hybrid Supra HV-R GT racer could take on Le Mans

Toyota is set to bring back its hybrid Supra HV-R GT racer as part of an assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours.

This V8-powered Supra with front in-wheel motors won Japan’s 24-hour Tokkachi endurance race back in summer 2007.

The Supra made history by winning that race, but then went underground as Toyota concentrated on other forms of racing.

However, the car - or at least, the hybrid tech that powered it - is still alive. This has given rise to hopes that Toyota may think about building an all-new car to bring the technology up to date and perhaps mount a renewed assault on Le Mans, a race it has tried so very hard to win.

Such a hybrid car would be perfect for the GT1 class at Le Mans and boost the green image that Toyota is already cultivating in Europe with the Prius.

But Toyota will need to get back into profit before any official programme can be contemplated, so such a car may not appear until 2012 at the earliest.

The HV-R from 2007 was based on the ferocious 4.5-litre normally aspirated V8 Supra that Toyota was then running in Super GT, Japan’s biggest domestic race series.

Besides the big, grunty 473bhp V8, the Supra featured an ultra-trick four-wheel brake energy regeneration/drive system, with front-in wheel motors, a rear 150 kW motor and a quick-charging capacitor in place of a rechargable battery. It was complex, but it did complete the 24 hours and take the spoils at the end of the race.

Peter Nunn

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