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Toyota Third Car Ruled Out for ’25; Decision Brings “Risk”

Toyota must consider carefully how it would structure third Hypercar entry, says Kobayashi…

Photo: MPS Agency

Toyota Gazoo Racing has ruled out expanding to a third FIA World Endurance Championship entry for 2025, with team principal Kamui Kobayashi pointing out the organizational “risk” associated with such an effort.

With Ferrari adding a third, AF Corse-run satellite 499P for the 2024 season and Porsche upping its presence to five 963s including customer teams, Toyota has found itself outnumbered by its main Hypercar rivals with its pair of GR010 Hybrids.

Team director Rob Leupen told Sportscar365 earlier in the year that Ferrari’s expansion had prompted Toyota to begin looking at whether it could add an in-house third car of its own, potentially as early as next year.

However, as of last month the deadline to make a decision had passed and Toyota now faces the prospect of going into 2025 again with only two cars.

Discussing the prospect of the Japanese manufacturer adding a third entry for 2026 or later, Kobayashi told Sportscar365 that the obstacles remain considerable, with the question of budgets and hiring additional personnel chief among them.

“There are many things: who would be the drivers, who would handle [running the car], who brings the budget?” he said.

“[We must also consider] why do we need to put a third car on the grid; what explanation [we give to the board of directors]. This is the main point.

“Increasing the number of cars means you increase the budget, you have to hire more people. We need mechanics, engineers. You bring more risk if something goes wrong; the damage is bigger. It’s about the organization.

“It’s easy to say we want a third car, but doing it is a big decision. We are not dreaming.”

Kobayashi suggested finding suitable drivers for a third full-season entry could also pose a challenge for Toyota.

When it was put to him that the marque already has ex-Hypercar driver Jose Maria Lopez and current reserve driver Ritomo Miyata to call upon, plus its contracted drivers in SUPER GT, Kobayashi replied: “It’s not that simple.

“We have to develop more drivers, and we have the GT3 project now. You also have to think about what happens in case we need to reduce the number of cars in future.

“It’s easy to say you want [a third car], if you are not thinking too seriously.”

While conceding that Toyota will be at a disadvantage to its main WEC rivals for the foreseeable future, Kobayashi said that Toyota can not think only in sporting terms when it comes to pulling the trigger on a third car.

“[Wanting to beat Ferrari] is not enough of a reason, to be honest,” he said. “It’s not just about winning. It needs a big commitment.

“Ferrari is doing a great job, because they are selling Hypercars to Ferrari owners, the track day car [499P Modificata]. We don’t have the capacity to do that, so it’s a completely different story.”

Leupen added that Toyota has ruled out supplying cars on a pure customer basis, as Porsche has done, owing to the complexity of the hybrid-powered GR010.

“It has to fit in our philosophy,” he said. “We don’t want to just give a car to a customer. It has to fit in with what we want to do, and how we want to operate.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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