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Toyota weighs up third Hypercar for WEC

Toyota is evaluating an expansion of its World Endurance Championship assault with a third GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

The Japanese manufacturer has revealed that it could take a leaf out of arch-rival Ferrari’s book and run a third car on a satellite basis in the future.

But Toyota WEC race director Rob Leupen has revealed that it is already too late to put such a plan into place for next season and that an extra full-season entry in the Hypercar class could not come on stream before 2026.

“We see what Ferrari is doing with its customer or satellite car, and we like that,” Leupen told Autosport.

“Clearly running an extra car gives you more possibilities, so it is something we are looking into. We are reviewing it.”

The lead-time involved in building an additional car and setting up the infrastructure to run it would make it impossible for a third GR010 to arrive in the WEC in 2025, explained Leupen.

“If we were going to do it next year, we would have had to have made the decision already, and at the moment nothing is decided,” he said.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“It cannot be a short-term decision because we know what the lead times for all the components would be in the current circumstances.”

Toyota favours going the Ferrari route: the factory AF Corse team runs the additional 499P LMH for this year driven by Robert Kubica and works drivers Yifei Ye and Robert Shwartzman on a customer basis.

“We are not at the stage yet where we say this is how we want to do it, but if you ask me, the way Ferrari does it, I like that,” said Leupen.

He stressed that the complexities of running a four-wheel-drive LMH would mitigate against the direction Porsche has taken by selling its 963 LMDh to privateer teams.

An additional Toyota would not be able to accrue WEC manufacturer’s points and instead would compete in the World Cup for Teams in which the extra AF Ferrari and the Jota and Proton Competition Porsches currently participate.

What is unclear is if there would be room for an additional Toyota the year after next.

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Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

The WEC grid is on course to expand to 40 cars next year at the same time as manufacturers look certain to be obliged to run two cars.

With the arrival of Aston Martin with two Valkyrie LMHs, an expansion of the current one-car Cadillac, Lamborghini and Isotta Fraschini Hypercar programmes would potentially mean the grid is oversubscribed.

Asked if there would be room for an additional Toyota with a continued expansion of the Hypercar field, Leupen replied: “How many cars does Porsche run? How many cars does Ferrari run? So why should we not run three?”

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Leupen added that there could be an overlap between the GR010 LMH and the hydrogen combustion prototype it is planning to develop after the reveal of the GR H2 Concept at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

The new hydrogen class is not set for an introduction into the series until at least 2027.

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