The last time Toyota competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was back in 1999 when their racing car - the GT-One - successfully established a new race lap record, but also suffered a tire puncture in the final hour of the race. Thirteen years later, Toyota is announcing that they will be returning to the famous race in 2012, along with their new LMP1 race car. Their new racer’s chassis was designed, developed, and produced by Toyota Motorsport in Germany, and comes equipped with a hybrid petrol powertrain engineered by Toyota in Japan.
Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Officer and Toyota Motorsport Chairman, said: "Toyota has entered Le Mans before, but by using our hybrid technology this time will be a completely new challenge. We want to write a new chapter in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, as in the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of hybrid technology."
If the design of Toyota’s new LeMans racer looks a bit familiar to you, it’s because it looks eerily similar to their all electric EV Racer that just established a new record for electric cars at Nurburgring. Electric vehicles are not a part of LeMans, but we can’t imagine that the EV Racer wasn’t a point of inspiration for the Toyota LMP1 Race Car.
The Toyota LMP1 Race Car will make its racing debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16th and 17th, 2012.
UPDATE 01/19/12: The first photos of Toyota’s hybrid LMP1 race car has finally surfaced on the Web. It’s right in line with what the initial sketch looks like, except that it comes with all the aerodynamic bells and whistles of a true LMP1 racer.