Toyota has confirmed that it will remain in the FIA World Endurance Championship at least through the end of the 2019 season, according to team director Rob Leupen, who cites the current stability of the LMP1 regulations as a factor for its extended commitment.
The Japanese manufacturer, which up until now had been officially confirmed through the end of this year, but on an open-ended commitment, is now set for the next three seasons, thanks to the regulations freeze through the same time period.
“We have a confirmation until 2019,” Leupen told Sportscar365. “The confirmation of the rules stability did help us for 2019.
“We would always review it when new regulations were up for discussion.
“Generally we say when regulation changes are there, you have to investigate if it fits the program.
“For us it’s important we have road relevance within motorsport. This is also how we work within TMG; we do a lot of prototype work for TMC [Toyota Motor Company].
“We get information from WEC, feed it back to TMC.”
The news comes as a significant boost to the WEC, which currently sees only Toyota and Porsche in the top class, and questions over both manufacturer’s long-term commitment.
Porsche has stated that it will remain in LMP1 through at least 2018.
Toyota’s Leupen, meanwhile, said a decision on whether to continue its program into 2020, when new LMP1 regulations are due to be introduced, has yet to be taken.
“If 2020 goes completely different rules, it wouldn’t be interesting for us,” he said.
If it goes in a similar situation, we might be very interested.
“In the end, TMG would not take the decision; TMC will do this and we have to fit into their corporate motorsport plan.
“The main issue is road relevance. We want to showcase Toyota technology in WEC and in Le Mans and at the present moment, under the circumstances, we can do.
“It’s important that we keep the powertrain development, the hybrid… As long as this is the case, it’s OK.”