Toyota Gazoo Racing has confirmed it will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship after next season in the new top class ‘Le Mans Hypercar Prototype’ category which will kick in for the 2020/21 season, confirmed today by the ACO at its annual Le Mans press conference.
The announcement means the Japanese marque will continue to race in International prototype racing, extending its program which began back in 2012, during the inaugural FIA WEC season.
With Toyota and Aston Martin (announced earlier today) on board, the new ‘Hypercar Prototype’ regulations have attracted two major manufacturers for Year 1 of the ruleset, which includes the 2021 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“I am pleased to confirm that Toyota Gazoo Racing will continue its challenge in endurance racing beyond the current regulations,” Shigeki Tomoyama, Gazoo Racing president, said. “Thank you to the ACO and FIA for their hard work in finalizing these regulations, which we hope will bring about a new golden age of endurance racing, with several manufacturers fighting for Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“For Toyota Gazoo Racing, this new era of competition is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate our credentials not only as a race team against some of the best in the business, but also as a sports car manufacturer. I am sure I join fans and competitors in welcoming the new regulations and looking forward to an exciting era of competition in WEC and at Le Mans.”
The Toyota team will enter a racing version of the GR Super Sports Concept into the top FIA WEC category. Driver Kamui Kobayashi is among those working directly on the development of the car, a road-going version of which was shown at the conference in a video, running at Fuji Speedway.
Track testing of the new race car, the name of which will be revealed at a later date, will begin next year prior to the start of the 2020-2021 season while further details of the GR Super Sport road car will be issued by Toyota Gazoo Racing in due course.
“It’s a great announcement,” Toyota driver Sebastien Buemi told RACER. “We had been informed some time ago about it. We are just happy that the new regulations are official now. We are hopeful that things are now headed in the right direction and that these regulations will attract people. It’s a new start.”
“Kamui was the only driver to test the prototype in Japan. I haven’t. (Jose Maria) Lopez has done a lot of work on the simulator. It’s probably the best way to test it so far. We are in the early days of the project and some setup options aren’t finalized yet on this car. What we know is that we will get to start testing (the final product) quite late. Probably no sooner than July 2020.”