Toyota insists it is being realistic about its chances in the Le Mans 24 Hours when it returns to the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend.
The 2012 running of the French classic will mark the debut of the new TS030 HYBRID, which will go up against Audi's R18 ultra and the German marque's own hybrid – the R18 e-tron Quattro.
While Toyota impressed during the recent Le Mans test day, the new car will go into the race without any previous race experience after a testing accident forced the team to shelve plans to contest the previous round of the World Endurance Championship at Spa, with team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita insisting that 2012 was very early days in the programme.
“This is a learning year for Toyota Racing but nevertheless we set ourselves high standards, so we want to prove the performance potential of the hybrid system and the TS030 HYBRID,” he said.
“We know it is not easy to face such experienced opponents and we face a steep learning curve, but the ultimate medium-term target for this project is to win Le Mans so we aim to take a big step in this direction in 2012.”
Toyota has pushed the boat out when it comes to its driver line-up, with Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 car and the #8 being crewed by Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi.
“To succeed here you need to be on top form, it's as simple as that,” Davidson said. “The test day gave us plenty of encouragement and we have to continue in this direction in order to be well prepared for the race.
“I am a positive and realistic guy; I hope we will have the car to fight at the front but I also know that 2012 is our first year so we have many things to learn.”