Toyota has warned that it may not be prepared to continue racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship if the new ruleset, due in time for the 2020 season, is toned down in terms of technological advancement. The news comes after leading figures at French manufacturer Peugeot have publicly called for costs to be cut, and therefore technical development curtailed, as a condition for their return to sportscar racing.
Since its launch in 2012 – brought forward by the sudden departure of Peugeot from the sportscar racing scene just before the WEC’s inaugural season – the Toyota LMP1 programme has developed from a precariously funded project constantly under review from Toyota HQ to one of the cornerstones of the Japanese manufacturer’s research and development activities.
It wasn’t until 2014, Toyota’s world manufacturers’ championship title season, that the Cologne-based team ran two cars for the full season. 2017 will see the team make a further step up, confirming a three-car effort for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two full-season entries.
This year’s TS050 is the third iteration of the Toyota prototype concept and has always established a consistent line of development between the hybrid technology in the LMP1 and the hybrid systems built into its road-going models.
“The main reason for Toyota to participate in the WEC is to develop technology and specifically hybrid technology, so it would be nearly impossible for Toyota to accept a step backwards,” Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s team director Pascal Vasselon told Motorsport.com. “Developing hybrid technology is the raison d’etre of the programme.”
With Peugeot and perhaps other manufacturers flirting with a return to Le Mans and the world sportscar scene, the FIA will have a great many things to consider when it comes to shaping the 2020 rulebook.
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