Vijay Pattni14 October 2011

Toyota announces return to Le Mans

New petrol hybrid will enter 2012 endurance race. Tech could ‘enhance’ production cars…

Toyota

Toyota has announced a return to the world's most famous endurance race. Next year, the Japanese carmaker will enter the top LMP1 class at Le Mans with a completely new sports car.

The new team will be based at Toyota Motorsport's headquarters in Cologne, with the new prototype expected to start its pre-season testing early 2012. And while scant information has been provided, all we know is...it's a hybrid petrol powertrain.

Gallery: Toyota sportscars at Le Mans

The chassis will be developed by the Germany-based team, while that hybrid drivetrain will be engineered by Toyota back in Japan. And Le Mans is just one of a number of races the team will enter, so expect more details as and when we get them.

Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota motorsport chairman, said: "By using our hybrid technology this time will be a completely new challenge.

"In addition, we aim to learn from the experience of competing in such a challenging motorsport environment to enhance our production car technology", he added.

That's right, if the LMP1 Toyota is a success at Le Mans, you could see some tech trickle down into the company's production line. We've only got one thing to say: build the new Supra. Now.

Toyota's history at Le Mans stretches back to the 1980s, and in the 90s fielded the immensely quick GT-One - one of which was driven by Martin Brundle - that set a lap record around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

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