Hisatake Murata received a promotion in Toyota Motorsport GmbH, moving up from the general manager of motorsport development to the president of TMG in Cologne. Along with this, Murata will take on the role of team president of Toyota Gazoo Racing, which is the banner that Toyota uses to race in World Endurance Championship and the World Rally Championship.
The role had been held by Toshio Sato since 2015, but now Murata takes over. In this new role, he will be in charge of the motorsport programmes in WEC and WRC as well as all the other business that TMG is involved in, including research and development projects, and customer services that it offers.
Murata has had a long history in motorsport, having been with Toyota since the late 1980s. Working in Group C, CART and IndyCar programmes, Murata was one of the driving forces and key players that saw the development of Toyota’s LMP1 programme and their entry into WEC.
On receiving the promotion within Toyota’s powertrain division, Murata said: “I am proud to take this new role at TMG. Since the beginning of our hybrid LMP1 project, I have built up a strong relationship with TMG members, so I am looking forward to working together even more closely as we push to succeed in all areas.”
This management change in TMG occurs off the back of the announcement that Porsche will be dropping out of LMP1 at the end of 2017. Whether the two are related has not been disclosed. Due to Porsche’s announcement, the future of WEC, especially the LMP1 class, is in uncertain territory. Toyota and Porsche confirmed commitment to the class earlier this year until the end of 2018, but as Porsche has broken that commitment it is not off the table that Toyota might as well.
Toyota had refused to comment on the Porsche withdrawal and their own future, but have conceded that they committed to race until 2018 with the belief that they would have factory competition on track. It is still unclear as to whether there will be any LMP1-H cars in WEC next year, or whether this management change in TMG is Toyota preparing for a similar departure to Porsche.