1998 Toyota GT-One – Click above for high-res image gallery

This year's 24 Hours of Le Mans packed plenty of action, but there weren't as many automakers fielding their own entries in the top-tier LMP1 category as you might think.

There was Audi, of course, which has dominated the category for years, arch-rival Peugeot, with its diesel-powered challenger, and Aston Martin, which stepped up to the big leagues after dominating just about every GT category for years. Honda Performance Development had a couple of cars in the second-tier LMP2 category, and there were plenty of factory-supported GT cars. The rest of the LMP1 field was filled by privateers running mostly Lola, Zytek, Oreca or Judd chassis, powered by a variety of engines. But the coming years could see an influx of new automakers aiming to take on Audi for the top honors.

According to the latest rumors, race organizers ACO are in discussions with a number of car manufacturers interested in entering the LMP1 category. Chief among them is reportedly Toyota, which is said to have been working on its own prototype since last year. The Toyota LMP1 is reportedly being developed with Dome – a Japanese chassis constructor that's built such racing machinery as the competition-spec Honda NSX, an aborted F1 program and several Le Mans prototypes, as well as a handful of Toyota racers in the 1980s – and incorporates a hybrid powertrain.

The last time Toyota competed at Le Mans was with the GT-One (pictured above), which raced there in 1998 and 1999 but held the lap record at La Sarthe until 2006. The new entry, according to reports, could be ready for an assault on next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      TF110
      • 3 Years Ago
      They tested an open car and a closed car, probably to see the differences, and DOME was monitored by Toyota in 2008 with the S102 coupe. So they have at least been eying LeMans for the past 3 to 4 years, not just all of a sudden. They tested a car provided by DOME with THEIR engine, years ago. This new story is about Toyota testing their OWN CAR. With hybrid technology. And Toyota's windtunnel is second to none. Even Ferrari's F1 team has used it to recalibrate their own windtunnel in Italy. If Toyota go back to LeMans, you can expect them to be front runners. While Audi and Peugeot rely on the diesel supremacy they also are works outfits. Other teams are not. Toyota even took top Petrol car honors this year with Rebellion racing, in a Lola with a Toyota SuperGT engine. They hoped in and were faster than any Petrol powered car with an engine not even specifically designed for LeMans. Audi and Peugeot better watch their mirrors.
      Kiiks
      • 3 Years Ago
      I thought Dome closed their sports car program. The S102 was beautiful, I wonder if Toyota plans to base the new car off of it? And if Dome is doing the chassis work, where does their usual international motorsport arm come in? (TMG)
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      zamafir
      • 3 Years Ago
      bwahahaha. awesome. This'll be entertaining. Here's hoping they have a better go than their first two years fielding the LF-A in endurance races.
        SloopJohnB
        • 3 Years Ago
        @zamafir
        Exactly. LF-A and endurance have little in common.
          zamafir
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          I love the downrating, I guess if toyota fanbois stick their fingers in their ears those two abysmal failures at the 24 hours of the ring just didnt happen, lol. Given toyota's history in F1 recently, hell and LeMans, this will be nothing short of entertaining. Props to toyota for finally getting it right with the LF-A on their third try, however LeMans is a big-boys sport, the best of the best, no excuses, just pure engineering prowess and driver talent, and in those scenarios, they've not managed to hit the ground running historically, typically takes them many tries, and LeMans is an incredibly expensive venture.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @zamafir
        [blocked]
        LEDfoot
        • 3 Years Ago
        @zamafir
        I would LOVE to see Toyota put their money where their mouth is and bring this supposedly superior hybrid technology to the le mans! But then that would be quite counter productive for Toyota because then people would probably stop buying Prii and start buying TDis... Nevertheless it would be awesome to see another big-name player in the prototype class.
      MAX
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can't wait to see Toyota get spanked.
      caddy-v
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can hear it now. "Gentlemen, start your engines. Toyota, to the recall lane".
        • 3 Years Ago
        @caddy-v
        [blocked]
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      Toyota may field a fast car but Audi OWNS LeMans due to their fuel conservation and stunning pit crew coupled with designed-in maintainability of their cars. They can just fix anything broken short of a crash (and sometimes even that!) in a very short time compared to the other race cars/teams.
        m5nm3
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        so can the other teams
        zamafir
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        Historically toyota has had zero issues fielding fast cars. fast cars are easy to build and race. Historically they've had huge issues building and fielding fast RELIABLE cars that can you know.. FINISH the race. Thus they'll need to show MASSIVE improvements over their previous half-assed approaches to endurance races.
      Alex
      • 3 Years Ago
      Fail II: Son of Fail
        TF110
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Alex
        Typical Toyota hater; Lame II: Son of Lame
          V12Mind
          • 3 Years Ago
          @TF110
          @ Carlos Vargas: Toyota's best finish at Le Mans is actually 2nd, not 8th. It came first in its class.
          Carlos Vargas
          • 3 Years Ago
          @TF110
          Typical Toyota hater? Look at the facts in F1 Toyota spent more than Ferrari each year and never one a single race.Their Le Mans program was short lived and just as bad, they fielded three cars all of which had failures and their best place was 8th?
          Carlos Vargas
          • 3 Years Ago
          @TF110
          Yeah and? Who cares if you hold a lap record, that means you build a fast car. Le Mans isn't just about being the fastest its about being reliable. I just don't agree with Toyota, they always have(or close to) the largest racing budget in any series they've entered and have never won first place at all. It just goes to show that having the biggest budget doesn't guarantee you'll win races.
      miketim1
      • 3 Years Ago
      My fav toyota of alll freakin time...... GT1 ftw
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        And yet, you somehow think that people consider it to b the greatest of all time even though it was only around for 2 years and never won at Le Mans. Go away with your Toyota fanboyism.
      V12Mind
      • 3 Years Ago
      If I recall correctly, the Toyota almost won Le Mans overall in 1999. Had it not been for an ill-fated tire puncture, they could have had a serious shot at victory...oh, well, that's racing I guess. They did finish 2nd and their class win. The only question is can Toyota compete with the diesel powered competition? A gasoline (petrol) car has not won the race since the Champion Audi R8 in 2005. Aston has enjoyed success in the Le Mans Series (where diesel competition is non-existent), but when it comes to the big race, they are sorely whipped by Peugeot and Audi if they get to finish at all. This proposed Toyota-Dome car -- if the project ever gets off the ground -- will most likely run a gasoline engine. A hybrid drive train probably will not happen.
        Kiiks
        • 3 Years Ago
        @V12Mind
        The first year or two, probably not. There haven't been any gasoline P1 entries with nearly the level of development as the diesels. Only a car with the full backing of a major manufacturer has a chance to even validate the gas/diesel equivalency formula. Aston doesn't count, as their 2011 car was outqualified by some half-dozen LMP2s at the 24. I'm excited to hear a front running prototype that actualy sounds like a race car for a change, but that will only happen if Toyota commits to a long-term development program. Hopefully this will remind Toyota (and indeed the rest of us) that ToMoCo used to build some world-renowned sports cars, and will inspire them to start doing it again.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 3 Years Ago
        @V12Mind
        "Had it not been for an ill-fated tire puncture, they could have had a serious shot at victory..." ...I've also heard that if the queen had balls, she would be king.
          V12Mind
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jonathan Arena
          Th point is that Toyota had a competitive car.
      Joel Tolle
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cool that Toyota is thinking of running at LeMans next year - I hear that Kenmore may field an entry also -
      JayP
      • 3 Years Ago
      As much as Audi is diesel, Toyota is hybrid. They'd be nuts to go head to head with Audi or Pug but field a hybrid, tie it into the Prius somehow and win the hybrid class. Unless ACO allows some special performance for hybrids, Toyota will not have a chance overall.
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