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:
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.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.