The Japanese marque faces being the only major player in the top division when the new Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) regulations replace LMP1 in the WEC next year, facing opposition only from privateer outfits Glickenhaus and ByKolles.
With LMDh initially scheduled to be introduced in 2022, it had been hoped Toyota would only have to go one more season before it could face manufacturer opposition once again with an influx of new arrivals taking advantage of the cheaper rules.
But the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic and the resultant economic crisis has led to suggestions that LMDh may not finally come on stream until 2023, with IMSA boss John Doonan insisting that the decision will be led by the manufacturers.
No manufacturer has yet committed to building a car to the rules, although Porsche has publicly stated its interest and has commissioned a formal study into doing so.
Asked about the situation, Toyota LMP1 team director Rob Leupen was philosophical about the prospect of LMDh’s arrival being delayed by another year.
“It’s a bigger part of this regulation, it keeps getting delayed and delayed,” Leupen told Motorsport.com. “We started talking [about the rules] in 2018 and now we’re in 2020. We’re going to race in 2021 with LMDh coming in 2022 or ’23.
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley
Photo by: Erik Junius
“A final decision is not yet made but apparently it goes to ’23. It is how it is. I don’t think we can change it. Let’s see when IMSA, the FIA and the ACO make final statements.
“From our point of view it would have been nice to welcome those who want to do LMDh in 2022, it’s more competition, but we hear there’s a potential delay [to ’23].”
Fillon: WEC doesn’t want to postpone LMDh
There are no plans to delay the introduction of the LMDh rules in the WEC, according to the president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, Pierre Fillon.
“We do not want to postpone the arrival of LMDh,” said Fillon, who also suggested that there could be LMDh cars on the WEC grid as early “as the middle of 2022”.
He admitted that it was in “the hands of the manufacturers”, but said that it has been receiving “no bad messages” from the marques with which it is in discussion.
Peugeot has announced a WEC entry in 2022, but has yet to reveal whether it will build a car to the LMH rules, which come into force next year, or in LMDh.
The French marque said back in May that the coronavirus crisis had not deterred it from going ahead with plans to return to sportscar racing’s top flight, but remained vague on when exactly its new hybrid-powered contender would make its debut.
It originally targeted being ready for the 2022/23 season, albeit not ruling out an early debut in the closing part of the 2021/22 campaign, before the WEC made the decision to scrap its winter calendar format for 2021 and beyond.
Additional reporting by Gary Watkins
Peugeot 2022 Hypercar
Photo by: Peugeot Sport