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Team Toyota’s Denso-backed SARD Supra HV-R scored an impressive victory at the Tokachi 24-hour endurance race in Japan on July 15 and 16. News has already started circulating about the achievement as this feat marks the first time a hybrid car has won such a contest. Even more notable was the convincing fashion in which it dominated: 19 laps ahead of its nearest competitor. Starting from the pole position the car accumulated 1,960 miles and 616 laps without yielding its front-running slot.

The Supra was a retired work horse from a long string of Super GT races. Its new purpose is to test and develop hybrid systems for racing applications, and this past demonstration signaled a bright future for this technology. Supplementing the old 4,480-cc 3UZ-FE V8 were three electric engines; the two up-front were rated at 10kw each and housed within the wheels and a single 150kw mounted to the rear axle. Power came from a proprietary super capacitor that was charged from four-wheel regenerative braking. The benefits include quick bursts of power for urgent accelerating while shedding the burden of traditional batteries. Surprisingly, these additions do not carry a severe weight penalty as the Supra tips the scales at only 2,300 pounds.

The Denso SARD race team reported an enthusiastic assessment of the vehicle concluding the race. Substantial performance gains were reported during moments of severe acceleration and deceleration with the regenerative braking system supplementing power and decreasing energy lost. Fuel economy was also a major homerun, as the hybridized Supra consumed 10% less fuel than the gasoline system it ran in previous configurations. Brake-pad wear was reduced by roughly 50% over the non-regenerative system. In endurance racing these changes present opportunities to make fewer pit stops.

In 2006, Toyota was the world’s first manufacturer to enter a hybrid race vehicle in the endurance race with their Lexus GS450h, which finished 17th overall.

Source: SARD Corporation. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from