Pace Notes


– SN


SHOCK! 735kW LMP1-inspired road car breaks cover

WELCOME TO THE hypercar club… Toyota? Not content for the likes of Aston Martin, McLaren and Mercedes-AMG to have all the credit, the Japanese giant has announced it’ll produce a 1000hp weapon of its own, based on its TS050 Le Mans racer.

First unveiled as a concept at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon, the Toyota GR (Gazoo Racing) Super Sport was confirmed for production at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour. Development has already begun, with the concept having completed track testing at the (Toyotaowned) Fuji Speedway in Japan.

Concrete details are still few, but Toyota’s decision to base the Super Sport on the TS050 gives us plenty of clues as to its mechanical makeup. What is confirmed is that the GR Super Sport will use the same hybrid powertrain as the TS050.

Should the powertrain be carried over unaltered, the GR SS will differ from its competitors by only producing half of its 735kW from its internal-combustion engine. The 368kW 2.4-litre V6 uses direct injection and is boosted by two turbochargers with intercooling housed in the sidepods. It’s connected in the racecar to a six-speed sequential gearbox and drives the rear wheels through a mechanical limited-slip diff.

The remaining 367kW are supplied by lithium-ion batteries, Toyota switching from its previous supercapacitor energy storage to the more traditional method for the TS050. The batteries supply power to a pair of electric motors, one on each axle, which provides all-wheel drive capability.

Thanks to an all-carbon tub with carbon body panels, weight is just 875kg and as a result performance is mind blowing. Toyota doesn’t provide any performance data for the TS050, but Porsche did for its 919 Hybrid, claiming it could hit 100km/h in less than two seconds and 200km/h in just 4.5sec. Given the two cars’ similarity in performance it seems reasonable to assume the Toyota isn’t any slower.

Double-wishbone suspension features at each corner with pushrod-activated dampers, torsion bar springs and anti-roll bars at both ends. Interestingly, the steering remains hydraulically assisted, while the brakes are 380mm carbon discs with six-piston calipers front and rear.

It must be said that the racecar’s specs aren’t guaranteed to carry over to the road car. However, in order to maximise the link between the two, it seems logical that Toyota will aim to use as much of the TS050’s race-proven engineering as possible.

The good news is while virtually every component of the TS050 is constrained by Le Mans LMP1 technical regulations, road cars have no such rulebook.

It’s very possible the road car could be even wilder and suddenly a whole raft of possibilities is opened up to the Gazoo Racing team.

No longer are there rules governing the engine’s fuel-flow limit, the power and duration of its electric assistance, the size of its wings, the weight of its wheels, and the size of its brakes. Allwheel steering, adaptive suspension, electronic driver assistance systems and more are all on the table.

Expect the GR Super Sport to appear around 2020-’21, at which point the World Endurance Championship will introduce its new GTP regulations, intended to tempt the new breed of track-based hypercars into competition.

If the World Motor Sport Council succeeds in its aim of limiting manufacturer budgets to a quarter of current levels, it could set up a new golden era for Le Mans, with the likes of the McLaren Senna, Aston Martin Valkyrie, Mercedes-AMG Project One and Toyota GR Super Sport battling it out on road and track.

– SN


V12 DBS SUPERLEGGERA! The 533kW Ferrari 812 rival

FIRST THE DB11, then the Vantage, and now the DBS Superleggera. In quick succession, Aston Martin’s range refresh is complete. Vanquish is no longer, though the name may return on another model, Aston’s Ferrari-fighting super GT reviving a couple of badges from the company’s long history. DBS first appeared in 1967 and has popped up occasionally since, most recently in 2007-2012, while Superleggera is a nod to the famed Italian coachbuilder Touring, which applied its lightweight construction techniques to iconic Astons like the DB4.

At 1693kg dry, the DBS certainly isn’t ‘superlight’, but it has shed 72kg compared to the DB11 courtesy of the carbon-fibre panels attached to the shared bonded aluminium architecture. The weight is also distributed almost perfectly – 51 per cent to the front, 49 per cent to the rear – and is controlled by double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear, incorporating Aston’s three-mode ‘Skyhook’ adaptive damping system.

In character, the DBS sits half way between the overt sportiness of the Vantage and the more relaxed GT nature of the DB11. It’s certainly more focused than the latter, with an extra 10mm of front track, huge 265/35 Pirelli P Zero tyres wrapped around 21 by 8.5inch rims and enormous 410mm carbon-ceramic rotors with six-piston calipers.

Things are no less serious at the rear end, with 20mm of extra track, 305/30 Pirellis on 21 by 11.5-inch rims and 360mm composite rotors clamped by four-piston calipers.

Such impressive hardware is required because Aston has removed the leash from its 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12. Outputs increase from the 447kW/700Nm of the DB11 to a whopping 533kW at 6500rpm and 900Nm from 1800-5000rpm, sent to just the rear wheels through an eight-speed ZF transaxle and mechanical limited-slip differential.

Performance is vivid, 0-100km/h claimed to take just 3.4sec with 160km/h requiring only another three. Top speed is 340km/h, at which point the DBS’s massive double diffuser and revised Aeroblade aero system combine to produce 180kg of downforce, the most of any series production Aston Martin.

Happily, Aston is keen for the DBS to have a more aggressive personality, an active exhaust ensuring its range-topper is 10dB louder than the DB11.

Inside, the two cars are virtually identical, a combination of leather, Alcantara and aluminium, with the infotainment and electronic architecture provided by Mercedes. Its styling, by design chief Miles Nurnberger, is clearly related to the DB11 but has a wider, more chiselled stance. You’re certainly not going to mistake that gaping grille for anything else.

Aston says the Superleggera is “a Super GT that’s a breed apart. One that takes the fight to the world’s best on its own terms.” You’ll be able to read how successful Aston has been in matching its Maranello rival next issue with our report from the international launch.

If you can’t wait until then, local order books are now open at $517,000 with the first deliveries expected towards the end of 2018

– SN


THE FIRST step in Aston’ Second Century Plan, designed to ensure the company’ second centenary is decidedly more profitable than its first, was to refresh its ageing core range.

The release of the DBS Superleggera completes that task, allowing Aston to start spreading its wings and venture into new markets.

First up is the DBX SUV, to be built at Aston’ new St Athan factory in Wales from 2020. Soon after, an all-electric luxury sedan will revive the Lagonda name as a sub-brand, with another potentially following by 2023. On more familiar ground, CEO Andy Palmer has made no secret of his desire to produce a mid-engined sports car to tackle Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini.


MCLAREN expands Longtail badge with new lighter, more powerful 600LT

McLAREN HAS extended its iconic Longtail nameplate to its Sport Series range, no pun intended. The new 600LT now sits above the 570S as the performance pinnacle of McLaren’s lowest tier and follows the F1 GTR and 675LT Coupe and Spider as only the fourth ever model to receive the ‘LT’ treatment.

The ingredients are broadly similar to its more regular 570S and 540C siblings, but the recipe has been tweaked in favour of greater track capability. McLaren hasn’t been forthcoming with many details, save for the fact that 23 per cent of parts have been changed compared to a 570S.

As the name suggests, the 600LT’s profile has been extended by 74mm courtesy of its new front splitter, side sills, extended diffuser and fixed rear wing. Liberal use of carbon fibre, including for the bodywork and seats, as well as a special lightweight Alcantara, enabled McLaren to shave an impressive 96kg from the 570S, the 600LT weighing only 1247kg (dry) with every lightweight option fitted.

An extra 22kW/20Nm has been extracted from the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 for totals of 441kW (600 metric horsepower, hence the name) and 620Nm. Unusually, McLaren makes no performance claims, but promises sharper throttle response and a more evocative soundtrack from exhausts that exit through the engine cover.

The chassis is unchanged over its Sport Series siblings, but there is quicker steering, sharper braking response, firmer engine mounts and, crucially, Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres to handle the rigours of circuit use.

McLaren claims the 600LT’s extended fixed wing and large diffuser significantly increases downforce, though again, makes no mention of any figures to substantiate this claim.

Production will be strictly limited (just 500 each of the 675LT Coupe and Spider were produced), but a small percentage of those will be brought to Australia. However, the exact number and price will be revealed closer to the car’s local debut.

– SN


NOBODY LIKES being beaten. Especially Porsche, by the looks of it. After the Lamborghini Huracan Performante knocked off its 918 Spyder as the fastest production car around the Nurburgring Nordschleife in early 2017 the brand has been on a rampage to reassert itself. Recently it went as far as to chop its own outright record at the infamous ‘Green Hell’ with a scarcely believable 5min and 19.546sec lap around the 20.832km circuit.

With the firm’s 919 Hybrid now finished with racing, after winning three-straight Le Mans 24 Hour races and World Endurance Championships, Porsche had a little task for it to complete before letting it kick up its feet on a beach in retirement.

Engineers were instructed to 7 ‘derestrict’ the 919 Hybrid 6 and see how fast it could tackle some of the world’s most 5 famous tracks. Spa Francorchamps was its first victim. It tore around the 7.004km track in 1min and 4 41.770sec, eclipsing the qualifying lap 3 Lewis Hamilton set at the 2017 Grand Prix in his Mercedes-AMG F1 car by 0.783sec. That was in April. It set the scorching Nurburgring lap on the morning of June 29 in cool, sunny conditions.

Known as the 919 Hybrid Evo, the car’s seen its weight, power and downforce upgraded to levels beyond the realm of LMP1. All equipment unnecessary for a handful of qualifying laps was ditched, including airconditioning, windscreen wipers, certain sensors and electronic devices, lights and pneumatic jacks. This dropped its dry weight by 39kg to 849kg.


Aerodynamics was the next area of focus. The floor and vanes were tuned for maximum attack, while a new diffuser was installed to balance the massive rear wing. With two drag reduction systems, downforce is up 53 per cent and efficiency by 66 per cent.

Power was tweaked by way of its turbo 2.0litre V4 and hybrid systems. The former spinning 530kW (162kW extra) through the rear axle and the latter contributing another 324kW (29kW), which is deployed via the front-axle electric motor. All up, that’s 854kW at its disposal.

If all these dizzying statistics are starting to make the 919 Hybrid Evo’s achievement seem less surprising, the gap to the fastest production road car around The ’Ring restores the achievement’s rightful lustre. Of course, the car in question is Porsche’s own 911 GT2 RS, which swiped the crown with a 6min 47.25sec lap, 87.754 seconds slower. Check out the speed differences below.

The last outright record stood at 6min 11.13sec at the hands of Stefan Bellof in 1983. The German native piloted Porsche’s 956 during that year’s World Sportscar Championship race. The next quickest lap that day was 6:27.36.

– LC