In the wake of today’s news that Porsche is set to withdraw from LMP1 racing in the FIA WEC after this season, Toyota Gazoo Racing – the sole-remaining LMP1 Hybrid manufacturer for next season – has yet to respond with an outline of its plans for 2018 onward.
There was a staff meeting at Toyota on Friday to ensure everyone was aware of the news. It was not a “crisis meeting,” but rather a meeting to re-evaluate its plan for the forthcoming WEC season. For the moment, its competition will come solely from non-hybrid privateer efforts in the class should it opt to continue racing in the WEC.
It is clear though, that without an LMP1 World Championship title for manufacturers, Toyota’s chances of competing in 2018 full time are slim, and they are awaiting further information from the WEC and the ACO before final proposals and decisions are formulated on the full shape of its 2018 effort.
Toyota’s commitment to the FIA WEC extends further than just competition. Its LMP1 Hybrid programm has always been R&D based, with the intention of aiding the development of its future road cars, a key factor which is not affected by Porsche’s exit. Toyota Gazoo Racing has also not achieved its ultimate goal either: to win Le Mans.
“I felt that it was very unfortunate when I heard that Porsche decided to withdraw from the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) racing series,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement today, reacting to Porsche’s departure.
“At last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race, we were honored that Porsche considered Toyota as a rival. It was a great battle as we fought against each other for victory.
“Looking toward this year’s series, we aimed to rise to and even surpass Porsche’s challenge. Those thoughts drove us to work harder and put forth our best efforts in realizing new technologies and skills.
“At this year’s Le Mans, I again had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Porsche. He told me that, much like us, his company participates in motorsport to enhance its production cars.
“As a carmaker that has been doing such for a very long time, Porsche deserves a great deal of respect. I feel very sad and disappointed that we will no longer be able to pit our technologies against such a company on the same battleground next year.
“However, the fight is not yet over. We will continue to battle with all our strength in the remaining five races of this year. Let’s make it an amazing competition that will remain in the hearts of the teams as well as of the fans. I am full of gratitude to Porsche, but I will save my thanks for when the season is over. At that time, I wonder which of us will be congratulating the other.
“Let’s look forward to that moment as we continue to fight. To everyone at Porsche, we’ll see you on the track!”