Toyota has announced that will be participating in the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship (WEC). The Japanese automaker confirmed its participating in the WEC in the first season run to the winter-series format as part of its annual motorsport statement. With manufacturers Audi and Porsche pulling out of LMP1 in 2016 and 2017 respectively, Toyota was the only factory team left in the WEC's premier class category. The team has continued to race against a host of new entrants ever since the seasoned manufacturers pulled out. This means the TS050 Hybrids will be back for contention later this year in the LMP1 space.
A statement from the team read, "Toyotra Gazoo Racing will compete in the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, it was confirmed today. The team will enter two of its hybrid-powered TS050 HYBRID race cars into all eight rounds, beginning on 1 September 2019 with the 4 Hours of Silverstone and concluding with the Le Mans 24 Hours on 13-14 June 2020.
The ongoing WEC season has been rather fruitful for Toyota with the manufacturer having taken its maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans win in June last year. The team has won four of five rounds in the current WEC season that ends at Le Mans this year. The team is yet to announce its driver line-up for next year, and will do so at a later date.
The statement from Toyota further read, "The driver line-up for the 2019-2020 season will be announced at a later date. Toyota Gazoo Racing is currently leading both the drivers' and teams' World Championships following five of eight rounds in the 2018-2019 WEC season. It aims to extend that advantage in the next round, the 1000 Miles of Sebring on 15 March."
It is believed that Toyota will continue its association with the current set of drivers for the 2019-20 WEC season as well. The team's current line-up includes Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi as well as F1's veteran Fernando Alonso, who made his WEC debut last year. All three drivers are under contract with Toyota till the end of the current season. The second TS050 Hybrid is run by drivers Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi.
It will be interesting to see if Alonso makes a comeback to WEC next year as well. The former F1 driver joined Toyota at the start of the 2018-19 WEC season as he aimed to win the triple crown of motorsport - Monaco GP, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans. More recently, the Spaniard has been focusing his attention towards Indy500. The driver is likely to take a decision over continuing in the endurance series at the end of this season. 2019-20 will also be the final year of the LMP1 regulations before they are replaced by the new hypercar-led technical rules starting from 2020-21.