Toyota Appoints New WEC Team President

Photo: Toyota

Hisatake Murata has been appointed Toyota Gazoo Racing’s new Team President, replacing Toshio Sato with immediate effect.

The Japanese manufacturer confirmed Friday the senior-level management shakeup, which sees Murata, who has been responsible for Toyota’s hybrid powertrain development, take over as the head of its FIA World Endurance Championship program.

Sato, who held the helm since April 2015, has been reassigned to a key role within the powertrain company of Toyota Motor Company.

Murata also assumes the role of President of Toyota Motorsport GmbH.

“I am proud to take this new role at TMG,” Murata said. “Since the beginning of our hybrid LMP1 project, I have built up a strong relationship with TMG members so I am looking forward to working together even more closely as we push to succeed in all areas.

“I would like to sincerely thank Sato for his leadership of TMG since 2015 and wish him all the best in his new position.”

The change comes just one week after Porsche’s announcement that it would withdraw from LMP1 competition at the end of the season, which has casted questions into the future of Toyota’s program in the WEC.

It’s understood a decision on the scale of Toyota’s participation in LMP1 next year has not yet been determined.

10 Comments

  1. Gaucherie

    August 4, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Wonder if this is to attempt to pull back this year’s WEC Championship given that it’s basically pointless for Toyota to be in a “class of one” WEC next year?

  2. Mike S.

    August 4, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Let me guess Toyota will go formula E.

  3. FLB

    August 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I think this is the first step towards a withdrawl from the WEC. Bring somebody from the outside to re-evaluate the program, much like Michael Carcamo was brought in at Nissan to replace Darren Cox.

    If he’s an outsider from the program, it may be easier for him to make cuts as he has no relationships to protect with the stake holders.

    • TF110

      August 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Did you read the article? Did you know that Murata was a part of the 2006 Tokachi 24hr Lexus GS hybrid that had a capacitor? He’s been a part of the lmp1 program since the beginning. He’s not “somebody from the outside” lol

    • KW

      August 4, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      He’s not an outsider at all. Murata-san has always been closely linked to development of hybrid engines for competition purposes. Also to Mike S.: Toyota has never been in favour of completely electrical drivetrains, so it is very unlikely to find them in Formula E. Instead they will look for places other than LMP1 where they can promote their hybrid technology. I wouldn’t be surprised if DTM switches to hybrids and gets Lexus as a third manufacturer.

      • Gojira

        August 6, 2017 at 12:04 am

        Instead of lexus, dtm will see prius as hybrid racers as dtm participants. I think.

        • KW

          August 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

          No; Lexus is the premium brand that is competing against BMW and Audi in the market, and Lexus has many hybrid series production cars. The Prius used to be the hybrid pioneer car, but meanwhile almost every Toyota and Lexus car is available as a hybrid version.

  4. Matt

    August 5, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I’d say Toyota are gearing up to become a drivetrain supplier and pull the works program from competition. Next year they lose the World Championship title in P1 so they would be throwing money at nothing for zero exposure now that GTE is going to be the main draw.

  5. Blue Oval fan

    August 8, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Toyota’s sole purpose next year will be to win Lemans, nothing more, nothing less. After that, providing they can finally pull it off, don’t be shocked when the plug gets pulled on the program.

    • KW

      August 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Right, that’s also my guess. They will “finish the job” next year and then finally bury LMP1.

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