Toyota has reaffirmed its commitment to the Le Mans Hypercar class in the wake of the postponement of Aston Martin’s planned entry into the top class of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Japanese manufacturer issued a statement on Wednesday indicating it would ‘consider and confirm’ its position on the situation, with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Pascal Vasselon confirming Friday at Circuit of The Americas that its program will continue as planned.
“There is little we can do about Aston Martin so we have to accept the news,” Vasselon said. “For us, at the moment, it doesn’t change anything except that the picture of next season has changed.
“Now we are looking to who will be present on the grid. There is little more we can say.
“Our car, fortunately, most of the parts are in production so there is absolutely no way back.”
Vasselon said a switch to the newly announced joint ACO-IMSA LMDh formula, which is set to debut in the 2021-22 season was “not considered” as it doesn’t correspond to Toyota’s objective in endurance racing.
“We’re racing to develop technology and to prove technology in racing,” he said.
“It’s true that for us it’s not interesting to purchase a LMP2 chassis and an off-the-shelf hybrid system. This is not what we’re looking for. This is not what we’re asked to do.
“We fully understand this approach is the right one for other manufacturers. But for us, definitely not, because our mandate is to develop technology in racing and to prove technology in racing.”
Development of the GR Super Sport-based LMH car has been ongoing, with an on-track debut still slated for July.
Toyota’s continued commitment to LMH as the only major OEM effectively keeps the platform alive, which is expected to see both Toyota and ByKolles Racing on the grid in September’s 2020-21 season-opening round at Silverstone with prototype-based hypercars.
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, the third and currently only other planned LMH entrant, is targeting to make a mid-season debut with its SCG 007, which like ByKolles, is also expected to be a prototype-based non-hybrid hypercar.
LMH/LMDh BoP “Cannot Be” Politically Driven
Vasselon said he doesn’t see how Toyota could be disadvantaged as potentially being the only major OEM with a LMH car, once a Balance of Performance system is achieved between the different platforms.
“At the moment we are at crossroads,” Vasselon said. “There are various way forwards. We want to believe there’s several ways forward but there are so many different cases that we cannot have an opinion on every single case.
“We’re just going for the next step, which for us is to finish our car, because whatever Aston does we want to be on the grid in September.
“Then we have the convergence with IMSA and LMH. I’m sure we will be involved at some point in this convergence and we will what we can or cannot do to help this convergence.
Vasselon said the addition of LMDh is “not a big change” to what was previously agreed upon as it effectively expands the top category’s eligibility from two to three different platforms.
“The ACO claims that this Balance of Performance that is planned is the best ever,” he said. “We cannot suspect there will be an in-balance.
“By principle, the Balance of Performance which is coming cannot be politically driven.
“It is presented as a scientific process where there is normally no way to politically drive it.”