1998 Toyota GT-One

Toyota will reportedly challenge diesel-burning entries from Audi and Peugeot at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans by fielding a hybrid prototype LMP1 racer of its own. The Japanese automaker is expected to participate in a handful of 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship races, but its main focus will be on winning the grueling 24-hour event in France.

The LMP1 prototype is a custom-built racer with Toyota Motorsports Gmbh handling chassis development and design duties, while Japan's Toyota Motor will engineer its hybrid powertrain.

According to Autocar, development of Toyota's gas-electric LMP1 is "well underway" and the racecar is expected to make its on-track debut in January of 2012.

Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota senior managing officer, told Autocar:
Toyota Motor Corporation has entered Le Mans before but by using our hybrid technology this time will be a completely new challenge. We want to write a new page in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as in the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of hybrid technology.
The last time Toyota competed at Le Mans was with the GT-One (pictured) back in 1999. Toyota has never won the 24-hour event, but hope springs eternal. Let the hybrid versus diesel battle commence.