Japanese carmaker Toyota will remain in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the 2018/2019 season
The 14-month agreement, which includes two editions of the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours race, means that Toyota will be the only major manufacturer in the top-tier LMP1 category after champion Porsche pulled out at the end of the 2017 season.
Toyota will field its TS050 Hybrid race cars with the Toyota Gazoo Racing team.
Porsche will, however, run cars in this season’s Le Mans 24 Hours, a race it has won for the past three years.
"It is highly regrettable that our rival in honing technologies on the roads of Le Mans has left," said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota. “Yet the World Endurance Championship, in which cars of different categories race at the same time, and particularly Le Mans, where the battle goes on for 24 hours, including on public roads, still represent the optimal proving ground for achieving the goal of making cars fun for the next 100 years.”
Only one Japanese manufacturer has ever won at Le Mans - Mazda in 1991 - but Toyota has claimed second step on the podium five times. Le Mans is part of global motorsport’s Triple Crown, which is completed by the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.
It has been widely mooted that two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso will compete for Toyota in the 2018 race. The Spaniard tested with the Japanese team in Bahrain last month.
The McLaren driver, who entered the Indy 500 this year, is keen to become the second person to complete the coveted Triple Crown. Britain’s Graham Hill became the only driver to have achieved the Triple Crown when he won in 1972 at Le Mans, having taken the chequered flag three times in Monaco and won in Indianapolis in 1966.