Despite Toyota’s “passionate and cruel” relationship with the race, it’s confident that this year will be its own, tempting fate with a press release last week stating it’s “on the brink of an historic first victory at Le Mans.”
Given this is the 86th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Toyota saw fit to match that up with the name of its affordable rear-driver, the 86 GT.
The three liveries it has chosen are all based on familiar Le Mans racers from Toyota’s past and present, including the TS050 Hybrid which it currently races.
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“The first in the new series pays tribute to the Toyota TS010 of 1992,” Toyota says, “which was powered by a Formula 1-style 3.5-litre V10 engine capable of producing up to 700bhp.”
While the TS010 never claimed victory at Le Mans, as is Toyota’s unwilling ‘tradition’, it took second place in 1992, and set a fastest lap (which it repeated the next year) and highest trap speed during the race.
“Next comes the 1998 TS020, or GT-One, a pure-bred Le Mans car that proved exceptional in qualifying and a record-breaker in the heat of competition.”
The GT-One raced in 1998 and 1999, though in ’99 didn’t compete in the LMP category. Instead, taking second place overall, it won in the LMGTP category, with ‘Drift King’ Keiichi Tsuchiya sharing the driving in both years.
“Completing the threesome is a GT86 inspired by the TS050 Hybrid, which came heartbreakingly close to winning Le Mans in 2016.”
We’re sure Toyota is hoping its Le Mans guest driver Fernando Alonso isn’t set to repeat his DNF performance at the Canadian GP at the weekend, but crueller things have happened to Toyota’s TS050.
“Toyota’s relationship with the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans has been passionate and cruel,” Toyota says.
“Yet still we love this race. We love the place, the people and the passion they bring. We’ve thrown our best at it time and time again. For the 86th running, we’ll be back.
“Maybe this year Le Mans will love us back.”