The new FiA World Endurance Championship (WEC) received a much needed shot in the arm today as Toyota officially announced their “entry” in this year’s maiden championship. The new TS030 HYBRID will still compete with a single entry at Spa and two machines at Le Mans as originally planned with maybe more on the schedule.
The news was announced today and now gives the FiA the two manufacturers needed in the LMP1 division. This will put Toyota one on one with Audi for sports car supremacy. No small order to say the least. The sexy new car will still have operational restraints given a full budget had not been allocated straight away. How far Toyota will be able to take the fight to Audi will remain to be seen.
Originally the battle was set to be Audi vs. arch nemesis Peugeot, but the French manufacturer pulled its factory support in an attempt to focus on sales figures amidst the European financial crisis. Now we must be careful with this news though. That does not mean we should expect to see cars at Sebring, but there entry means they very well could show up if funding is available. Regardless, it is great news and a great sign of Toyota’s willingness to see the new WEC succeed.
The car is a 3.4 litre V8 gas powered machine with a hybrid system to boot! This allows a set amount of kinetic energy to be collected under breaking and used as power. It does have an electric only mode, but that will strictly be used for entry and exit from pit lane. It also sets up a battle at Le Mans that will see Toyota (famous for their hybrid technology) battle the TDI that has ruled the famous Circuit de la Sarthe for years.
Given the original plan of only running select races for 2012, I don’t expect a whole lot from Toyota this season. However, seeing as though they entered the championship to help the FiA and ACO; I think we can count on this year being a learning year and maybe more to follow in 2013. By more I mean a more robust schedule and maybe another entry into the WEC. Regardless, I can’t wait to see this fight! It really embodies everything that is Le Mans and sports car, innovation and the quest for speed and road car relevance.