Though Toyota bailed on Formula One is less-than-graceful fashion, the company's motorsport division has remained, and is now seeking to apply its hard-earned knowledge to a Le Mans Prototype for the 2011 season.
Partnering with Rebellion Racing for a Lola-chassis racer, Toyota Motorsport has already conducted initial testing with Rebellion in Portugal and Spain. Apparently the results were encouraging enough to justify full development--an interesting result considering Toyota's unwillingness to stay in F1 as a constructor without results to show for their effort.
As Toyota Motorsport president Yoshiaki Kinoshita put it, "We are looking forward to working with Rebellion Racing on this exciting project, particularly because the performance, as well as the reliability, was very encouraging." As we say in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, reliability is at least as important as performance, if not moreso.
Toyota's decision to get into the Le Mans Prototype fray, and to do so at the deep end with an LMP1-class car, may seem a bit at odds with the decision to step out of F1, but whatever the reasoning behind the decision, we're just glad to see another major engine manufacturer.