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Toyota Decision Unlikely at Fuji

Decision on Toyota’s future in WEC unlikely to be made at Fuji…

Photo: Toyota

A decision on Toyota Gazoo Racing’s future in the FIA World Endurance Championship is unlikely to be made this weekend at Fuji Speedway, with the Japanese manufacturer awaiting further clarification on the technical regulations for the unified LMP1 class.

Toyota was due to announce this weekend whether it would continue in LMP1, following a re-evaluation of its factory prototype program amid Porsche’s exit from the class at the end of the year.

A Toyota spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that a decision will now likely not come until the end of the month, amid continued talks with the FIA and ACO.

“Toyota’s discussions regarding its own future participation in WEC are proceeding with all stakeholders,” a statement from the manufacturer read.

“These have been the subject of various media reports, of varying degrees of accuracy, and a decision is expected within October, although not necessarily during the Fuji event.”

The delay in a decision is believed to center around questions over the proposed Equivalence of Technology, which will combine LMP1 hybrids and non-hybrids into a single class beginning with the 2018/19 ‘Super Season.’

While having stated plans to give LMP1 non-hybrids additional fuel and engine power, and LMP1 hybrid performance levels remaining unchanged, the FIA and ACO have yet to detail how it plans to achieve the balance.

The lack of defined regulations for next season has left ORECA, which has been considering building a LMP1 car for privateers, also on the fence.

Toyota’s WEC commitment was initially through the end of the 2019 season although is currently being reviewed due to the changing LMP1 landscape, which so far only sees a confirmed entry from SMP Racing for next year.

Ginetta has announced sales of its first three cars, but the customer has yet to come forward, with ByKolles Racing also yet to officially confirm a return to full-season competition.

A handful of LMP2 teams, including Manor and Rebellion Racing, have been considering a step up to the top prototype class, but has yet to materialize.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. CookieMonsterFL

    October 12, 2017 at 2:08 am

    Nothing makes a nervous sportscar fan more nervous than a delay in news. Obviously the rhetoric from Toyota is to stay at 90% cost, but if there just isn’t a compromise that the FIA/ACO can’t seem to reach with Toyota and frankly fans that like an equal overall fight – no matter the team or cost – then Toyota may have to reconsider at least their entry for next year if not 2019 as well.

    I just hope to bottom line of this update is that Toyota is still negotiating – still talking to the FIA/ACO willing to work with and come to a compromise that gives us fans a race to see for the next couple years.

    • AudiTT

      October 12, 2017 at 4:36 am

      Toyota not returning would be the biggest boost possible for privateers. Of course we all want Toyota to return, and competitive fights upfront, but the priority needs to be privateers who will provide the bulk of the grid, and regulations for 2020/21 to attract manufacturers (i.e. based on P1-L with some DPI like features).

      • Helmut

        October 12, 2017 at 9:03 am

        The main limitation of an LMP1 program is the costs and the restriction to WEC. There’s not much money to gain by winning or placing 2nd, 3rd, … (in contrast to F1), so it’s going to depend on whether sponsors and paydrivers are willing to pay more money for being able to win overall.

        However, I’m not sure about that. In case there are no manufacturers involved in LMP1, which is still the top category and not GTE, interest in the series will decline. Up to now FIA WEC has benefited from those who are mainly interested in seeing some high-tech “futuristic” cars entered by manufacturers battling for overall wins. These can’t be attracted by privateer LMP1 or LMP2. Now, if there are less viewers then the series might be less attractive for sponsors, even if there is a change in some privateer LMP1 winning races.

      • Bakkster

        October 12, 2017 at 11:53 am

        Yes, and the longer Toyota delays their LMP1 decision, the worse it is for any Privateers on the fence.

  2. Vette76

    October 12, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Toyota is waiting for the new regulations while the ACO and the FIA ​​await the decision of Toyota on its participation or not in the WEC … We go round in circles … The more the time passes and the less there will be new teams in LMP1 not hybrid in 2018. Get moving Gentlemen of the FIA ​​and the ACO time presses!

  3. Anonymous

    October 12, 2017 at 3:13 am

    More likely the decision has already been made! Peugeot have said no to LMP1 and car manufacturers aren’t exactly tripping over each other to come and play in LMP1. I suspect the delay is about not releasing the bad news at your home race.

    • KW

      October 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Exactly my opinion. If they had good news, they would have published them at their home race. The bad news will be published at one of the two final races.

  4. John Edwards

    October 12, 2017 at 4:16 am

    I have been a great dan of sportscar racing all my life and have been every year to Le Mans since 1982 the start of Group C. It seems that over the years the different changes to modern technology have had a detrimental effect When it is mire basic rear wheel driven (large naturally aspirated or smaller tubo unis) then you have bigger grids and close exciting racing. Witness the LMP2 and LMP3 racing in ELMS which is an absolute joy (usually better than the WEC race!) I think the regulations need to simplified and get rid of a lot of the technology which reduces costs dramatically (and maybe reduce downforce?). Hey presto everybody accepts and grids expand. Please listen FIA and ACO we need bigger grids and better racing.

  5. AudiTT

    October 12, 2017 at 4:31 am

    Regarding privateers specifically. At this time of year very few have confirmed their coming seasons plans, that goes for P2, GTE-Pro, GTE-Am and of course P1.

    With next season only staring in May there’s a good 6 months before Spa kicks things off. Indications are Ginetta are close to another 2 car sale, and Oreca seem set to build a car. If it’s upgradable from an 07, it will be a good option for existing customers like Rebellion and Signatech.

    • Davy

      October 12, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      Diluting both the LMP1 and LMP2 fields is not a good idea to me.

  6. AF

    October 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

    Toyota are out, let’s turn that page and be done. If they were announcing good news it would have come at Fuji to appease the home fans.

    Them being gone opens up the floor to a huge number of interested privateer teams, plus semi-manufacturers like Alpine, who shouldn’t be able to compete in P2 next year. I’ve spoken to a few drivers with LMP1 experience recently, and all of them are in active contact with prospective 18/19 P1 teams who awaiting the Toyota announcement.

    • KW

      October 13, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Yes, but this open door for privateer teams will just fill the gap between now and the new regulations coming in 2020/2021. The ACO will still stick to its goal to have LMP1 as a platform for OEM’s demonstrating new technology. Wait for a “DPi hybrid” platform to be defined during the 2018/2019 “super season”. 2018 and 2019 will be the one and only chance for privateer teams to win Le Mans.

  7. Davy

    October 12, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    At this point I would rather see the LMP1 class be dropped and have all prototype teams be consolidated in LMP2.

    Trying to equalize Toyota with freaking Ginetta or SMP is shambolic.

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