Auto: Toyota to make hybrid Le Mans return

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Toyota confirmed on Friday it will return to Le Mans next year with a petrol hybrid car, 13 years after the Japanese constructor's last official participation in the famous French endurance race.

The engine has been in the works back in Japan with the chassis being prepared in the utmost secrery at Toyota Motorsport GmbH, based in Cologne, Germany.

Toyota quit Formula One racing two seasons ago citing a need to cut costs but the company did have an indirect presence this season on the endurance circuit via the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) and Le Mans Séries (LMS) as engine supplier for the Lola coupes of Swiss stable Rebellion.

Toyota say they plan to participate in "several" legs of the new World Endurance Championships (WEC) whose calendar is set to be revealed next month.

Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Officer and TMG chairman, said the hybrid technology element was a key element in bringing about the stable's return to Le Mans.

"Toyota Motor Corporation has entered Le Mans before but by using our hybrid technology this time will be a completely new challenge," he said.

"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," Yamashina told, describing Le Mans as "a legendary race."

© 2011 AFP

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