Back in last January, I posted a story about Autosport’s visit to Toyota Motorsport’s factory in Cologne that houses a high-tech simulator alongside everything else needed to get a large-scale motorsports program going.
Back then, the company was in between projects as Toyota had pulled out of Formula One in early 2010 and was looking to rent out their facilities so none of the expensive kit would gather dust. Times have changed a lot since then as Toyota has announced their return to World Endurance Championship racing using their new Hybrid-powered TS030 Le Mans Prototype.
The new car will be driven by Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre & Kazuki Nakajima and while the Austrian & the Frenchman have vast Le Mans experience, former F1 driver Nakajima will be a rookie coming to La Sarthe next June. To help the young driver with the transition, Toyota has equipped their simulator with a virtual version of the iconic French circuit, allowing Nakajima to familiarize himself with the unique high-speed track that incorporates lots of bumpy public roads.
Even though the simulator still uses a Formula One monocoque as part of the hardware, the simulator will allow the drivers to virtually test drive the closed-top Le Mans Prototype in preparation for the 2012 24 Hour and World Endurance Championship seasons, you can see the simulator in action below.