Toyota Gazoo Racing have also published a statement following Porsche‘s announcement to leave the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship at the end of the year. The team’s president, Akio Toyoda, released the statement, making it clear that this would be the only comments they would be making on Porsche’s decision to leave the top class of the WEC.
Toyoda started the statement by praising Porsche as competitors on track and indicating his remorse that the German team would not race against them on track next year. “I felt that it was very unfortunate when I heard that Porsche decided to withdraw from the LMP1 category of the [WEC]. 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.”
Toyoda expressed a desperation for fans and the media to not fixate on this news, but to focus on the remainder of the 2017 season. Toyota drivers Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima currently sit 30 points behind Drivers’ Championship leaders Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, whilst in the Manufacturers’ Porsche have a 39.5 point lead on Toyota.
The general vibe of the Toyota statement is that there will be no goodbyes or farewells until the chequered flag drops after the 6 Hours of Bahrain. For now, Toyota’s focus is solely on the 2017 season and trying to gain on the pace advantage Porsche displayed through the 6 Hours of Nurburgring with the high-downforce aero kit.
There was no mention or comment on Toyota’s own future after the end of 2017. It seemed that the Japanese team were a little reluctant to make any comment on this, but it can be assured the pressure will be on the team from the media to display whether or not they think they will be in WEC next year.
With no one to race against in the class, there does not seem to be a lot of point in Toyota staying. However, if they honour their commitment to, at least, the end of 2018 they could try one last time to claim the elusive 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victory. With just them in the hybrid class, it would be a battle against themselves to put their name in the history book.