Being that Toyota is the first Japanese manufacturer to secure an overall Le Mans 24 victory since Mazda’s famed 787B win in 1991, I had high hopes that the company would stick around to fight into the next generation of regulations. While Porsche and Audi left Toyota to run around at the front with no real competition, it has been running a pair of TS050 LMP1 prototypes as fast as they’ll go. And today the company announced it would be sticking around the FIA WEC through the new Hypercar regulations.
Assuming nothing catastrophic goes wrong this year or next, Toyota has only themselves to beat on the way to an uncontested three-peat at Le Mans before the Hypercar regs come into play in late 2020 for the 2020-21 season. Unlike the current LMP1 regulations, Toyota already has someone to fight against in the guise of Aston Martin’s Valkyrie.
Toyota and Gazoo Racing have already got the basis of a race car in the upcoming GR Super Sport, the 1000 horsepower road-legal Valkyrie and Mercedes 1 competitor that Toyota introduced over a year ago and has been pretty much silent about ever since. The GR Super Sport will feature a turbocharged 2.4-liter V6 and a hybrid system, but that’s about all we know.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if this new “Hypercar” competitor is based heavily on the existing LMP1 car, as Toyota has been developing that technology for quite a few seasons. It’s possible that the incumbent Le Mans winner will have the kind of experience necessary to pull off an Audi-esque decade-long dynasty at Le Mans. Then again, it’s possible that multiple manufacturers will come in and give Toyota a really hard time at that.
I was skeptical when the Hypercar regulations were announced, but with two manufacturers already confirmed and more allegedly waiting in the wings to join, it could be a great show. Tune in late next year to find out.