Racing is getting greener: F1 has plans for downsized engines, Porsche has the 911 GT3 RSR with kinetic energy recovery and Le Mans has rumbled to the sound of turbo diesel engines for several years now.
Indeed, the diesel-engined Audis and Peugeots have been dominating the sport since 2006 with Audi taking consecutive victories with the R10 TDI, R15 TDI and most recently, the R18 TDI.
Now, Toyota has released its own challenger, but rather than diesel power, Toyota has developed a gasoline-electric hybrid Le Mans Prototype (LMP) car.
The car will race in the top LMP1 class against the Audis and Peugeots and is co-developed by Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, whose drivetrain will go into a chassis developed by Toyota Motorsport in Germany. Testing is due to begin in early 2012 and the car will be run in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship to prepare for the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race on 16th June 2012.
The last time Toyota competed at Le Mans was with the GT-One in 1998 and 1999 before the project was dropped in favor of Formula One.
Unlike F1, Toyota is claiming the knowledge gained from racing at Le Mans with a hybrid will go towards helping develop even better hybrid road cars, though it may be a few years before we see a 200mph Prius...