The rumours became whispers now the whispers are becoming a quiet roar, Toyota is heading back to Le Mans. The stories have been around for years but with the limitations of Formula One and the high profile of the Le Mans series in both Europe and the important USA market, the chances of a return by Toyota are growing.
Speaking on the Australian television show “In Pit Lane” Toyota’s Australian motorsport manager Todd Connolly said the while there was nothing official the company would like to be back at Le Sarthe.
“At this stage there is nothing we can say in that reagard but obviously there’s a lot of benfits in running a hybrid in a race like Le Mans. he said.
Connolly was speaking from in front of the Toyota stand at the recent Syd.. sorry Australian International Motorshow which featured a heavy motorsport presence including the Tokachi 24 hour winning Supra Hybrid.
“the Tokachi car that we have here today won the race by 19 laps so clearly it’s a technology that works well in endurance races and I think that’s something we can all look forward to seeing in the future.” he said.
The Japanese Autosport magazine is reporting that Toyota and famous Japanese manufacturer DOME are currently working on a car based on the DOME SJ102 but there has been no official annoncement.
Like their Australian representitive the company itself is hedging its bets but making no secret that a return to Le Mans is still on the company’s horizon.
“Toyota have never hidden their interest in considering new motorsport opportunities, including Le Mans,“ said the statement. “Currently no formal plan nor decision has been taken on changes or additions to the current programmes.“
Recent threats by the FIA to introduce a “standardised” engine into F1 recently prompted Toyota team President John Howett to warn of a possible Toyota withdrawal from F1 should such a move be made.
The company however has denied that there is any diect threat to the F1 project but added: “… we believe Formula One must remain a technological challenge; this is an important point for Toyota and provided this does not change we expect to continue in F1 until at least 2012.“
At least 2012, mmm… plenty of time to develop a serious contender for Le Mans one would think.
To hear the Interview with Todd Connolly in full, including Toyota’s view on joining the V8 Supercar series subscribe to The In Pit Lane Videocast via Apple iTunes at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=82362745