Possible delay to Toyota WEC announcement
Toyota seems unlikely to confirm its World Endurance Championship future at this weekend’s Fuji round.
The Japanese manufacturer did not comment on its future when the sweeping technical and calendar changes were announced in Mexico early last month, but did hint at an announcement in Fuji.
However, Toyota Gazoo Racing has now advised in its pre-race statement that news would “not necessarily” be released at its home round in Japan.
“Toyota’s discussions regarding its own future participation in WEC are proceeding with all stakeholders,” read the statement.
“These have been the subject of various media reports, of varying degrees of accuracy, and a decision is expected within October, although not necessarily during the Fuji event.”
Toyota traditionally signs off its motorsport programs during the second half of October.
That means any confirmation or cancellation of its WEC program is unlikely to be communicated until the end of the month or the beginning of November.
Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, from where the TS050 Hybrids are run, is understood to working on the assumption that the program will continue into next season.
It appears that Toyota’s decision will only cover the so-called ‘superseason’ incorporating five races in 2018 and three over the first half of 2019 before the WEC transitions into a winter series straddling two calendar years in 2019/20.
The future direction of the P1 rulebook has yet to be defined, though the first steps were taken last week with a gathering of manufacturers in Paris and a subsequent technical working group meeting.
Toyota did have a firm commitment to the 2018 WEC season.
That has had to be re-evaluated after the announcement of Porsche’s withdrawal from LMP1 and then the WEC’s overhaul of the series, which included a commitment to make privateer P1 cars as fast as factory hybrids.
The 6 Hours of Fuji weekend begins with two practice sessions on Friday 13 October.
The #2 Porsche trio of New Zealanders Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber and German Timo Bernhard lead the championship by 51 points with three races remaining (including Fuji).
Given that there are 25 points on offer for each race win, and one for each pole, Hartley/Bamber/Bernhard would seal the title with two races to spare by beating the #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi/Anthony Davidson/Kazuki Nakajima and finishing near the sister #1 Porsche of Neel Jani/Andre Lotterer/Nick Tandy.