Toyota is open to using team orders through this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as it bids to score its maiden overall victory in the classic sports car race.

Toyota is the sole manufacturer racing in the LMP1 class at Le Mans this year, and is expected to enjoy an outright pace advantage over its privateer rivals, making the team the overwhelming favourite for victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso has joined Toyota for the FIA World Endurance Championship super season as part of his bid to win Le Mans, with a potential victory acting as the second completed leg of the ‘triple crown of motorsport’.

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Alonso won on his WEC debut in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid alongside co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, leading home the sister #7 Toyota that was shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez.

Conway was prevented from passing Alonso in the final stint of the race after Toyota stuck to a pre-race deal that whichever car leading after the last pit stop would win the race, with the trailing car not to make an attempt to overtake.

Asked if Toyota would consider the same move at Le Mans, team boss Pascal Vasselon said that while there was no firm plan currently in place, it would be considered.

“[After] the last pit stop, it is always something we consider. We always consider what makes sense for the team,” Vasselon said.

“We have no clearly defined plan, but we will always do what is best for the team at that point.

“We ask them to not bang doors. Last year, we just asked them to handle the passing situation in a smooth way. It is up to them. If you remember last year, car 7 and 8 were passing each other several times. Every time it had been reasonably smooth.

“We don't forbid them from passing each other. We just ask them to respect a few guidelines, to make sure that it's not risky. We have anticipated a few typical race situations and we have agreements with them so they know what to do.”

Vasselon admitted that the team orders at Spa did cause some tension at Toyota, but stressed it was simply what had been agreed by the team.

“In Spa it was only what was planned to happen. There was nothing different to what was planned and agreed,” Vasselon said.

“The situation had been completely fair to what was agreed before. It put some tension in the moment but it happened exactly as was planned. No one was able to complain.”

Despite being denied the chance to fight Alonso for victory in the final stint of the race at Spa, Conway fully understood the team’s call, and doubts it will have much of an impact at Le Mans given the unpredictable nature of the race.

“The team orders are always in place because we’re making sure we achieve the best result possible for the team. We don’t want to risk any fights that are unnecessary or risk the result for one car,” Conway said.

“I think Le Mans is such a long race that we’ll be able to just do our race for 95 percent, and then from there we should know a better picture.

“Things play around so much during the race, you could have an advantage of 40 seconds at the beginning in the first six hours, and then that could be erased with a Safety Car that you sometimes get. It swaps around so much, you can’t put things in place for that in the beginning. It’s so hard.

“I think we’ll just be doing our race and then see where things are in the final hour. Even then, it could still be pretty close, and then we’ll see.”



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