Toyota has confirmed that it will make a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with a full factory effort next season with a petrol hybrid LMP1 machine.
Although the Japanese marque returned to La Sarthe last year as an engine supplier to the Rebellion Racing team, the announcement will see a fully-fledged Toyota factory team in action in the French round-the-clock classic for the first time since 1999.
Then, in a race overshadowed somewhat by incidents that saw the Mercedes cars of Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck crash heavily after getting airborne, Toyota clinched second place in the race, with Ukyo Katayama, Keiichi Tsuchiya and Toshio Suzuki finishing second in the GT-One model.
Toyota's new car, which has yet to be named, will be based on a closed-coupe model being produced by Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, with a petrol hybrid powertrain being put together by Toyota in Japan.
The car is set to take part in a roll-out around New Year before an extensive test schedule takes place ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours, with outings also planned for several rounds of the new FIA World Endurance Championship.
No drivers have yet been mentioned for the programme.
“Toyota Motor Corporation has entered Le Mans before but by using our hybrid technology this time will be a completely new challenge,” Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Officer and TMG Chairman, said. “We want to write a new page in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as in the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of 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. Le Mans is a legendary race and I would like to thank the ACO and the FIA for their constructive and positive cooperation over the last few months.”