Click for gallery of the Tokachi-winning Denso SARD Supra HV-R

According to the Yomiyuri Shimbun newspaper, Toyota is considering a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010 with a hybrid racing car. This seems like a natural progression for the automaker, which has entered hybrids in the last two Tokachi 24-hour enduros in Japan, winning it last year with a retired Supra Super GT car that was retrofitted with a hybrid system. The Denso SARD Supra HV-R had a single electric motor for the rear wheels and in-wheel motors up front. Toyota says that its future results in F1 have a bearing on whether it will follow through with a Le Mans bid, but let's be serious for a moment. Toyota's F1 experiment has been an exercise in futility, and with the recently-announced 10 5-year freeze on F1 engine development, the writing is on the wall for Toyota to pursue other motorsports avenues, especially if it wants to use racing as a laboratory for street technology. Sports car racing is a much better bet in this regard, as has been shown by automakers like Audi, who races and wins under diesel power, and Chevrolet, who has used the Corvette Racing effort to similar effect. A Toyota win at Le Mans under hybrid power would also elevate that particular green technology's profile in Europe, where it still plays second fiddle to diesel. Toyota's last factory-backed Le Mans effort occurred in 1999, when one of the automaker's GT-ONE racers finished second overall.

[Source: Yomiyuri Shimbun via AutoblogGreen]

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