The sudden departure of Peugeot from the Le Mans racing scene came as quite a shock, we know. But don't count the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship – or the famed 24-hour race at its center – out for the count before it's even started, because another powerhouse is already gearing up to take Peugeot's place. And that powerhouse is Toyota.

The Japanese auto giant announced its plans to build and campaign a new LMP1 racer at Le Mans and the WEC back in October. Toyota Motorsport GmbH (which ran the company's F1 team until its withdrawal in 2009) then set about designing the car, partnering with Team Oreca to help with the logistics of entering the pinnacle of endurance racing, and hired three top pilots to, you know, actually drive the thing.

With all those pieces in place, the Toyota team began testing their new prototype racer last week at the Paul Ricard test track in France. Toyota itself didn't release much in the way of details, but Alex Wurz was said to have led the shake-down, with his team-mates Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima on hand to share in the driving duties as well.

And while no "official" photos were "officially" released, Toyota PR rep Scott Brownlee tweeted a couple of snapshots to whet our appetites. The result looks, predictably enough, much like the latest LMP1 racers fielded by Audi and the departed Peugeot, but as with most things, it's what's underneath the surface that will count the most. In Toyota's sake, that would be a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain of some sort, but we'll have to wait a little while longer – as the next round of testing and the car's anticipated debut at Spa come May approach – to find out more.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      miketim1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Freakin SWEET. Reminds me of the GT1
        jonnybimmer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        You mean the GT-One? I know it's a very minor difference (word vs number), but one is attached to the Toyota and the other is the Porsche 911. I hope they stick with the red/white livery though, makes it pop out a bit more compared to R18's silver/black. Hopefully Toyota will provide Audi with some solid competition now that Peugeot left. Shame all three couldn't battle it out though.
          - v o c t u s -
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jonnybimmer
          Oh yes. TS020 redux for sure. ...superficially. Are they regulating them into this shape, with the damn dorsal fin and all, or is it just proving to be better? I know there was some kind of rule prohibiting a body part that was strictly for downforce, aside from the spoiler or that stupid vertical slab I guess. What's the deal? Why have the Aston, the Audi, the Pug, and now the Toy ALL got these big abrupt front wheel bulges that curve so steeply downward. It must be some kind of regulation because it doesn't seem aerodynamic and it sure as hell isn't pretty. Prototype cars like the TS020 had a wedge front for so long and now the current generation all has this smashed-in bulging look to it. Why?
          miketim1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jonnybimmer
          I agree about the color, that color has also been Toyotas color all thru their racing heritage.
        jstanford
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        Really? It reminds me more of a combination of Peugeot's and Audi's current LPM1 cars. I wish it did look like the GT-One (http://www.planetlemans.com/wp-content/themes/tma/images/uploads/2008/01/470-toyota-gtone-c-ultimatecarpage.jpg), one of the sweetest looking race cars ever.
        Elmo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @miketim1
        That won Le Mans right? LMAO
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      is going hybrid even allowed in this class? if so it would be kind of an unfair advantage, right?!
        nsxrules
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lachmund
        They allow Diesels, why wouldn't they allow hybrids (both have the same advantage over gasoline powered cars, lower fuel consumption)
          Lachmund
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nsxrules
          if so... if i were audi i'd go for a diesel hybrid!
          DB
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nsxrules
          Lachmund: You read Audi's mind. Behond the R18 hybrid: http://auto-racing.speedtv.com/article/le-mans-revised-audi-r18-testing-at-sebring/
          DB
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nsxrules
          Ehem...Behold the R18 hybrid: http://auto-racing.speedtv.com/article/le-mans-revised-audi-r18-testing-at-sebring/
        Mindspin311
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lachmund
        Hybrid power is allowed in LMP1 this year, Audi is rumored to be running a Diesel/Hybrid set-up
        Krishan Mistry
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lachmund
        As with anything in endurance racing, it's not really the technology, but the equalization. Yes, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid would walk away from its GT class (if it were in a class), but throw enough ballast and/or power limiters, aero limits, and it would post exactly competitive lap times. Only thing is, if diesel is so much better than gas, why isnt it 'equalized' to allow gas LMP1 entries a shot at the now-diesel soaked podium?
          Elmo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Krishan Mistry
          Actually, the GT3 R Hybrid did receive multiple penalties, but it still won lol.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Lachmund
        [blocked]
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shouldn't it be beige? *ducks*
      Matt Clare
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Prius Wowee
      Jonathan Arena
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wish they would be a little more original with thier design... I mean they basically took the front of the Puegot and the back of the R18, and slapped some different headlights on.
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