Toyota LMP1 rendering

Toyota has announced that it is returning to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile's World Endurance Championship in 2012. The car it will be contesting the series with is a new prototype that will use a hybrid gasoline/electric powertrain. We can only hope the experience will equal more exciting future models under the Prius range...

The last time Toyota competed in Le Mans racing was in 1999, just before the Japanese automaker abandoned the GT-One program to focus on Formula One.

We don't expect Toyota's new LMP1 racer to have anything in common with the erstwhile GT-One, which was powered by a 600-horsepower 3.6-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. Though always fast, Toyota's last-gen endurance racer never quite put together a complete race. Here's hoping the effort produces more consistent results this time around. Check out the official announcement after the break.
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Toyota to Participate in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012

Tokyo, Japan, October 14, 2011-Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces that it will participate in the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) World Endurance Championship in 2012, the first year of the international endurance race series created through a partnership between the FIA and the ACO (the Automobile Club de l'Ouest).

To date, the ACO has run the Le Mans 24 Hoursin Le Mans, France, and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, with races in Europe, the United States and Asia. In March, the ACO and the FIA announced their partnership and the FIA World Endurance Championship to start in 2012. The inaugural year is expected to feature a series of races in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, in addition to the Le Mans 24 Hours.

In 2012, Toyota will take part in several races of the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, with a prototype "LMP1" car featuring a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. Further details of the participation, such as team name, drivers and participating races, will be disclosed in due course.

To mark the announcement, Toyota's executive in charge of its motorsports activities, Senior Managing Officer Tadashi Yamashina, said: "We have competed in Le Mans before, but by using our hybrid technology, our participation in 2012 will be completely new. We want to make history in the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as in the FIA World Endurance Championship, through use of our hybrid technology. In addition, we aim to learn from the experience of competing in such a challenging motorsport environment to enhance our production-car technology. We thank the ACO and the FIA for their input and assistance."