Toyota plans return to La Sarthe in 2010! (update)

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According to the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper Toyota Motors is planning a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours in the near future. The last time Toyota raced at Le Mans was back in 1999 with the Toyota GT-One, back then the Toyota Team Europe entered GT-One finished in second place behind the BMW V12 LMR but ahead of two Audi Sport Team Joest entered Audi R8R.

For the next Le Mans attack Toyota plans to bring a hybrid vehicle with only one aim, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time. In the US Toyota has already launched its hybrid car Prius with a lot of success, and the company hopes to get Europe interested in its environmental technology as well.

“Audi proved the superiority of the next generation diesel engine at Le Mans. Toyota wants to do the same with the hybrid,” an unnamed Toyota official told the newspaper.

Before Toyota will hit the Mulsanne Straight a lot of development will have to be done as hybrid cells are still quite heavy and not as efficient as a diesel at the moment. So before beating the Audi R10s and Peugeot 908s the Toyota engineers will have to reduce the weight of the vehicle and increase its efficiency.

Nevertheless the announcement is a good sign for the sportscar world as it seems that yet another major manufacturer is starting to shift its focus on endurance racing.

UPDATE:
Plans for a return to Le Mans in 2010 do exist, but Toyota can not confirm this date for its return yet.

The article in the Yomiuri Shimbun has more Toyota quotes:

Dozens of Toyota employees from its motor sports and hybrid vehicle development divisions have formed a team to develop racing cars for Le Mans.

Toyota officials say they are confident in taking on the challenge of the Le Mans race, saying that the company aims to win the race at its first renewed attempt.

“There are a number of uncertain factors such as our [future] results in F-1 that might affect our ability to meet the challenge,” a Toyota executive said. “But our target is definitely Le Mans.”

14 Comments on Toyota plans return to La Sarthe in 2010! (update)

  1. The have won their firts 24 hour race with a hybrid already and the hybrid engine used in the Supra has won the award for Race Engine of the year:

    http://puregreencars.com/Green-Cars-News/Other-Green-Car-News/Toyota-Supra-HR-V-Hybrid-Race-Engine-of-the-Year2007.html

    Interesting to see that they make use of a quick-charging capacitor system instead of the usual (heavy) rechargeable batteries. Some more background can be found here:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=AE786E24-E7F2-99DF-3546F86843FBD646&page=1

  2. whatever they do, i hope thats not only a Le Mans program and they put the car on LMS… i should be mandatory. No LMS or ALMS championship entry (all season) – no 24 Hours invitation… as simple as that. We want more LMP on the track…

  3. With their commitment to F1 until 2012 I can not see a full LMP class car being produced here. I would see a Lexus GT2 machine in development for this project. Much like their Super GT programme and when all the Japanese teams brought JGTC cars to Le Mans in 1995.

  4. This would be great if true. but I don’t see it happening by 2010, like Derek mentioned, they still are focused on f1 until AT LEAST 2012.

  5. Toyota is a global company. I can’t see why they cannot compete in F1 (global), Le Mans (Europe), GT (Japan) and NASCAR (US) at the same time.

    It would be interesting to see if and how the various (autonomic?) Toyota Motorsport divisions will be working jointly on these new techologies. The GT has left the drawing board stadium and is racing (and actually already won its first 24 hour race). I am pretty sure in F1 the teams will spent a lot of time this year on the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems planned for 2009. Will we see any reuse and joint development for the Le Mans car?

  6. Looking at the “old” Toyota I suddenly realise what a timeless and beautifull designed car it is. I hope they wil do it again this way ! !

  7. Well for one thing why they will not any time soon is the fact that Toyota Team Europe is now Toyota F1! I remember the TTE press conference when they announced the immediate withdrawl from the WRC as well as the stoppage of the Le Mans programme. The Toyota Racing American branch TRD in California is running the NASCAR programme after their withdrawl from Champ Car. The only Toyota Racing department that could work on the Le Mans programme would be Tom’s Toyota the Japanese racing department. They were the ones that ran the Le Mans Group C programme and currently run the Super GT and Formula Nippon programmes.

    Like I stated earlier I could see Tom’s developing their Lexus SC 430 Super GT car to GT1 spec with a hybrid engine. That would be the most economical approach because they need all the money they can give to that Toyota F1. Now they could get the old Norfolk boys into the fold like what Audi did with the R8C and the Bentley. You should ask them Marcel.

  8. Sorry to stack posts here but upon further research the new A.C.O regs for 2008 does have something interesting.

    1.13 – Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS): The ACO is currently studying specific rules for LMP1 which will be equipped with a kinetic energy recovery system. This regulation will meet the balance of performance between LMP1.

    http://www.mulsannescorner.com/chassisregulations/2008LMP12.pdf

    Now remember the Peugeot 908 project was completed in 18 months. Again though Peugeot withdrew from the WRC to focus on their Le Mans endeavors.

  9. News Flash!

    Toyota Motor Corporation Has Already Announced Their Plan For Not Involving In FIA Formula 1 World Championship For The Year 2010! Due To The Poor Performances Given By Their F1 Drivers (Jarno Trulli And Tomy Glock) And Also The Economic Burden In the Japanese Market…So This Means That The Toyota Team Eurpoe Does Not Have Any Link With Formula 1 Now…So This Will Make Many Employees Of Toyota Team Europe Unemployed…..So I Think The Fair Thing To Do Is That Toyota Motor Corporation Should Now Again Get Involved Into 24 Hour Leemans…Because Formula 1 Is Probly The Highly Expensive Motor Racing Project In The World…..So The 24 Hour Leemans Will Be Be Quiet Affordable For Toyota…And i Think They Should Really Start Working On It And Forget Formula 1…What Do You Guys Think???

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