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."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      MattW
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a real nice thought but any body who actually follows top line sports car racing knows how hybrids have recently done in endurance racing. Plus they are going to have to try and compete with the Factory diesels of Audi and Peugeot, who have dominated recently. It's a real nice thought, but like Aston Martin showed us, unless there is a full factory support and not just customer cars that haven't been properly devolped they really don't stand a chance. All that being said i think it is good news hopefully they also enter into the AMLS. A GT program also would be a very good move maybe something based off of the LFA.
        WMUCarGuy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MattW
        The only hybrid LMPs we've seen in modern sports car racing were all extremely small efforts compared to this, and this will be a full, factory effort. If you look at what Porsche has been able to do with the flybrid in their GT3 hybrid racer, it's pretty apparent what a well developed hybrid system can do (The Porsche 911 hybrid finished ahead of every standard GT car at Laguna Seca last month). Aston Martin's effort was also a full, factory effort although they've got just a fraction of the budget that Audi and Peugeot do (and what Toyota will have) and it's also the first time they've built an LMP car from the ground up, in house. They may have also stretched their resources a bit thin taking on that project AND the MINI WRC program. And as far as the LFA, there is an LFA GT car coming, but we're not yet sure if it'll be an ACO style GT2 car or an FIA GT3 car. Time will tell.
          Kiiks
          • 3 Years Ago
          @WMUCarGuy
          The stillborn AMR-One was rushed in CFD and the engine was also miserably underdeveloped. Aston's failing was not due to their lack of funding (which is far less than Audi's, and quite a bit less than Peugeot's as well) but due to arrogance. Arrogance that made them think they could develop and build a competitive LMP in 3 months to go toe-to-toe against Audi and Peugeot, whose cars had three times the development length. Toyota's new prototype has probably been in development for months now. I'm sure all of the design work was already finished, with the construction waiting on the release of the 2012 regulations. (which was what, a week ago?) Shakedowns and private testing starts in January, followed by 6 months of nonstop development until June. Speaking of regulations, the diesels will get a 7% intake restrictor reduction. Do you think Toyota had anything to do with that? I wouldn't be surprised to hear that their participation was contingent on that restrictor rule. "We thank the ACO and the FIA for their input and assistance."
          Kiiks
          • 3 Years Ago
          @WMUCarGuy
          Well it wasn't a full effort but it was factory! =P The AMR-One was run by Prodrive, but many of the Lola Astons were/are factory "assisted" programs. I might be wrong, though.
      Abe
      • 3 Years Ago
      ooh Porsche vs Toyota in hybrid shootout?
      garmo88g
      • 3 Years Ago
      If Toyota goes into this like they did in NASCAR ,IRL, NHRA and everthing else they have the competition is in trouble. Toyota will use all the corprate assets neccessary to WIN. Costs be damned.
        SamBlob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @garmo88g
        Oddly enough, that didn't help them in Formula One...
      John
      • 3 Years Ago
      Of course you know damn well they are going to cry foul that they at a HP disadvantage to other marques. Just like Ferrari pulled on Ford and Audi pulled this season on Caddy to the point the SCCA race CTS-V has less horsepower then the street version and 50 less then the Audi.
      Mike
      • 3 Years Ago
      Before buying a car or a truck from a foreign company, think about this: Those foreign car companies that are building plants here in the USA pay American workers half of what workers from American car companies make. Thats half the money to spend and half the tax revenue collected from wages! Also all the profits from these plants go right back to a foreign country except what goes into our polititians pockets. NOW TELL ME THIS IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY!!!!! No other country would allow foreign companies to take over their auto industry. That is exactly what is happening to the USA!!
        Master Chief
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mike
        People like Maeve and floatgod don't have enough common sense to understand that concept. To them its more American to buy a japanese or korean car put together here, than an American car put together in canada or mexico. Its too advanced for them
        Michael Cimino
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mike
        People are able to buy a car.... vs... paying for something they cannot afford... which causes a write off.. which is money the government is making up for anyways... its a lose lose situation.... if American meant quality still... I would probably buy a new car.
      XT6Wagon
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dunno if they will be allowed to race this. You know the safety hazard from it cruising down the track at 50mph with its left blinker stuck on.
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @XT6Wagon
        Yeah, because Toyota doesn't have a racing heritage, right?/sarcasm
      Jonathan Arena
      • 3 Years Ago
      About time they grew a pair
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        floatgod
        • 3 Years Ago
        You going to help me make my payments Bob? No? THen don't tellme what to buy!
        Courtney
        • 3 Years Ago
        More people would, if 'American' cars were actually made in the United States, instead of Canada and Mexico
      Rudukai13
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well it's about damn time. Hopefully this will translate into some production performance hybrids in the near future...
      miketim1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks awesome. Reminds me of the great Toyota GT-ONE
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        The great GT-One? Wow, you didn't listen last time, did you?
          Kiiks
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Elmo
          What's wrong with the GT-One? It's race record is crap, but it's design influence is undeniable. It's the first iteration of the modern LMP coupe. It wouldn't look out of place on today's grid.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      the wheelerZ
      • 3 Years Ago
      Im having trouble keeping track... how many are confirmed to go back to Le Mans in LMP1? Porsche, Toyota, Jaguar, Aston? Plus Audi and Renault. That could be an AMAZING race in a few years!
        WMUCarGuy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @the wheelerZ
        Right now we have Audi, Peugeot, and Toyota for 2012. Aston may return, or they may run a factory GT program (which is in my opinion where they should be). Jaguar is just whispers at the moment and would be a year or two away if they actually decided to do it. Porsche will be there in 2014, and there's been no talk from Renault. Perhaps you got Peugeot and Renault mixed up? Regardless, the factory involvement is going up which should make for great racing!
          Drakkon
          • 3 Years Ago
          @WMUCarGuy
          I sure hope so, but at Le Mans, there seems to be a gentlemen's agreement that if my car is getting too old and your new young hotwheel is going to make me look bad, I'll just bow out now. Hope it doesn't, but I wonder if the Diesels are reigned in and Audi (and possibly the Lion) don't have a developed hybrid system, rhey may just leave.
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