Toyota to stay in WEC at least until end of 2019 season
|By Gary Watkins||Friday, March 31st 2017, 10:25 GMT|
Toyota will remain in the World Endurance Championship at least until the end of the 2019.
The Japanese manufacturer has revealed that it has extended its committment to the LMP1 division of the WEC after the rules freeze announced last November.
Toyota Gazoo Racing team director Rob Leupen explained that the extension of the current rule book, which delayed the introduction of new regulations increasing the scope for energy-retrieval set for 2018, had played a major part in the decision.
"We will continue at least until 2019; this has been decided but we have not spoken out loud about it," said Leupen.
"Definitely the [changes of the] rules have helped us be cost effective, but in the end the main issue is road relevance.
"We want to showcase technology in the WEC: it is important that we keep hybrid powertrain development."
The pledge to remain in the WEC for at least another three seasons supersedes what was previously an open-ended involvement with a firm commitment until the end of 2017.
Porsche and Toyota have decided to go beyond the cost reduction that has followed the rules freeze by entering into a gentlemen's agreement not to build new monocoques for two seasons.
Porsche is commited to LMP1 through 2018 after extending its initial three-year race programme covering the 2014-16 seasons for a further two years.
Leupen reiterated Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon's concerns about the future of P1 rulebook for 2020 and beyond.
He stressed the need for Toyota to be able to develop new road-relevant technical solutions in the WEC.
"If 2020 goes in completely a different route, it would not be of interest for us, but if it goes in a similar direction [as now] we could be very interested," explained Leupen.
The rule makers, the FIA and the WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, are looking to reduce costs further to encourage other manufacturers.