Toyota Motor Corporation returns to Le Mans!
Photo : Jean-René ROGER - (ACO/Nikon)
Toyota Motor Corporation has announced today, Friday 14th October 2011, its comeback to top-level motor racing, and the Japanese manufacturer has chosen endurance events.
Toyota’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hours, thirteen years after its last official participation, follows in the wake of Porsche’s announcement that it is entering in the top category in 2014, and highlights even further the fidelity of the major manufacturers like Audi and Peugeot, which have made such a contribution to the success of Le Mans-type events.
In 2012, the Japanese giant will enter for the 80th Le Mans 24 Hours with an LM P1 prototype, the top category in long-distance racing, which will be powered by a hybrid petrol engine developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.
The chassis has been designed, developed and built by the Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s High Performance Centre in Cologne (Germany) where the team will be based.
The size of the programme and the exact name of the car will be revealed at a later date. Its shakedown will take place at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 followed by an intensive test programme.
This announcement strengthens the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s determination to continue its on-going work of developing endurance racing in the wake of the Le Mans 24 hours, which has been given concrete form by the creation of the World Endurance Championship in partnership with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and will kick off in March 2012 with the Sebring 12 Hours.
What’s more, the Toyota project is built around a petrol-powered hybrid engine. This dovetails perfectly with the ACO’s expressed desire to ensure that its events are races in which cutting-edge technology combines with top-level sportsmanship.
Since 1923, the Le Mans 24-Hours race has been the greatest test bed for the major car manufacturers, and has led to an incredible number of innovations that were revolutionary at the time of their appearance, and have now become part of everyday motoring.
These include windscreen wipers and disc brakes, which contribute not only to improving mobility, but also to saving lives thanks to a reduction in the number of accidents on roads throughout the world.
The participation of this innovative prototype from a major manufacturer in the motor car economy is another big step in this direction.
Jean-Claude Plassart, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “We’re very happy about Toyota’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Seeing another major manufacturer coming back to our event is always a great source of satisfaction. But above all, this entry is powered by a hybrid engine, which underlines the relevance of the work that the Automobile Club de l’Ouest had done on its regulations to open the door to new technologies. This incredible technological challenge shows yet again that in the mind of all the major players in the world automobile industry, the Le Mans 24-Hours event is still the benchmark test bed in motor racing.”
Photo : Le Mans, Circuit des 24 Heures. Green light for Toyota. Homage to the manufacturer by Jean-Claude Plassart, President of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (left), and Vincent Beaumesnil, Sports Manager right) in front of the Toyota 94 CV driven to second place in the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours by Irvine-Martini-Krosnoff. Toyota gave this car to the ACO and it is on display in the Le Mans 24-Hours museum.