Toyota Rejoins Le Mans Race with Hybrid Car


Toyota Motor Corp has recently announced its motorsports division based in Germany would be competing in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship Circuit. This circuit includes the famed 24-hour race of Le Mans.

Joining the race would be a newly designed racecar. This car would be powered by a hybrid engine. Previously, the division designed a hybrid car that set a lap record for electric vehicles on the Nurburgring track.

The last time Toyota competed in this racing circuit was in 1998 using its GT-One racecars. This car design registered the fastest qualifying laps in Le Mans. Disappointingly, the GT-Ones faltered during the race with only one of the three qualifying cars able to finish. The car placed second overall after BMW.

The new Toyota racecar hybrid would be competing in the premier LMP1 class. It would have a hybrid powertrain to be built in Japan. The chassis would be built in Cologne at Toyota Motorsport. The first tests would be conducted early next year and the race schedule would be determined in the coming weeks, according to the team.

In a media release, Toyota Motorsport Chairman Tadashi Yamashina said, “We want to write a new page in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of hybrid technology.”

Last August, the Toyota Motorsport Racing Team set a manufacturer-confirmed lap time of 7 minutes and 47.8 seconds on a pure electric racer. The chassis of this racecar was designed by Radical, a British manufacturer. For this new venture, Toyota did not confirm if it would partner with the same boutique manufacturer or if other partners would be included in the development of the LMP1 car. Other details such as the participating races, team name, drivers and other information would be disclosed in the near future.

In the LMP1, Toyota would go up against racing giants such as Audi and Peugeot. In its history, Toyota managed to have quick cars but tire problems forced two of the three entries to retire from the legendary 24-hour race. As of date, Toyota had abandoned the Endurance program to focus on its Formula One racing team.

Yamashina added, “In addition, we aim to learn from the experience of competing in such a challenging motorsport environment to enhance our production car technology. Le Mans is a legendary race and I would like to thank the ACO and the FIA for their constructive and positive cooperation over the last few months.”

Currently, the ACO or the Automobile Club de l’Quest and the FIA or Federation Internationale de l’Automobile has run the Le Mans 24 hour race as well as the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. This cup race runs through Europe, the United States and select Asian countries.