Pierre Fillon, the president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, said luck had not always been on Toyota’s side.
“That is part and parcel of the Le Mans legend,” he said. “If the team manages to win the 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans, it will join an exclusive group who have triumphed three times in a row and deservedly kept the grand trophy.”
In the last two years, Toyota’s main competition in LMP1 has come fromprivate teams, which lack the budget and resources to compete.
But a new set of rules for 2021 designed to make the top category more similar to road cars is creating interest from manufacturers to race in Le Mans.
Unlike the existing LMP1 cars, which are designed purely for racing and have no relation to road cars, the racecars will be based on the design of high-performance, road-going sports cars. The new category, which will be known as Le Mans Hypercar (LMH), is intended to make racing at Le Mans more relevant to the core business of automakers.
It is estimated the LMH cars will be 15 seconds per lap slower at Le Mans than the LMP1 cars.
Peugeot is planning to enter the category while Ferrari and Porsche have also expressed interest. It will give Toyota tougher competition, which Leupen embraced.
“We would go to a similar championship like with Audi and Porsche in 2016 and 2017,” Leupen said of Le Mans.
“Those who have a racing DNA will come back to Le Mans.”