Toyota will take on Audi and Peugeot at next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours with a new petrol-hybrid prototype.
The Japanese manufacturer will participate in several races in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, with the main focus on the twice-round-the-clock French enduro.
The new LMP1 prototype is being built by Toyota Motorsport, while the petrol-hybrid powertrain will be produced by Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.
The team will be based at Toyota Motorsport’s high-performance technical centre in Cologne, Germany, which its Formula One team used to work out of. The LMP1 chassis has been designed, developed and produced there.
The project is well underway, with the car is planned to take part in a roll-out around the turn of the year prior to an extensive test schedule in early 2012.
Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota Motor Corporation senior managing officer and TMG chairman, said: “Toyota Motor Corporation has entered Le Mans before but by using our hybrid technology this time will be a completely new challenge. We want to write a new page in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as in the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of hybrid technology.
"In addition, we aim to learn from the experience of competing in such a challenging motorsport environment to enhance our production car technology. Le Mans is a legendary race and I would like to thank the ACO and the FIA for their constructive and positive cooperation over the last few months."
Toyota has already started experimented with alternatively powered racing technology. In August Toyota Motorsport set a new lap record for an electric vehicle around the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a modified Radical powered by two electric motors.
The Japanese marque has a long history of Le Mans assaults, most notably with the awesome Toyota GT-One prototype of the late 1990s. It has never won the race, however.