Although not yet confirmed, Toyota Gazoo Racing have stated that they plan to enter into the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship.
After a successful 2018 that sees them leading the World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and saw them claim their first 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, the Toyota Motorsport GmbH team in Cologne are readying the TS050 Hybrid to race in the next season of the WEC, starting in September.
The decision from the Toyota team is expected this month, with the team likely to announce their commitment to the WEC mid-February.
Team Director Rob Leupen told Autosport: “We are preparing the budgets and generally getting ready for next season. It is all going in that direction and we are nearing a decision to continue after the current superseason — we should be there next season.
“Looking at our competitors, we might need to make one or two small development steps, but we will not do any big things.”
Leupen explained that continuing into the final LMP1 season was a “logical” choice. He also confirmed that Toyota was likely to participate in the “Hypercar” class, taking over from LMP1 in the 2020/21 season.
“It makes sense to keep racing and keep the team together,” he continued. “We have a nice piece of machinery we would like to race and we would be able to prepare ourselves for 2020 if we are going to participate.”
An announcement about Toyota’s participation in the “Hypercar” class could come at the same time the team announces their 2019/20 plans.
“We hope this happens because we have to start the programme,” he said. “We are very involved in the rules development group and we are doing studies.
“Whether we do it is not decided, but it looks very positive.”
Dedicating to the 2019/20 season would give Toyota a chance to score a hat-trick of 24 Hours of Le Mans victories, something that seems likely if they keep racing in the LMP1 class and retain their advantage over the Privateer cars. Scoring a hat-trick of Le Mans wins would allow the Japanese team to keep the Le Mans trophy.