Toyota driver Anthony Davidson says the teams of the World Endurance Championship are faced with a difficult choice between focussing on their title chances or their shot at winning the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Le Mans is the marquee event of the WEC calendar, the prestigious race awarding double points towards the championship standings.
And Davidson notes that the race's special status, combined with the special, straight-heavy layout of the track, present teams with a difficult choice of focus.
"The thing with Le Mans is, it is that standalone event," Davidson told Motorsport.com.
"But unfortunately in some ways, it’s the biggest race of the season and that means that standalone event takes up most of your time throughout the whole year, even though the championship is a bigger affair.
"It’s hard to balance the two, really, because you could spend all of your time purely dedicated to Le Mans in the windtunnel and have a bad package for the sprint races for the whole rest of the season, and completely throw away your chances of being competitive in the championship."
"If Monza was quadruple points"
Davidson compared the specific demands of Circuit de la Sarthe to Formula 1's Italian Grand Prix venue Monza, saying: "Trying to balance all of that with limited windtunnel time is tough in the same way that F1 teams have to consider Monza on the calendar. You can’t just ignore it.
"But if Monza was suddenly double points for the season, or even quadruple points because they got a much longer spread in the calendar, you would find teams having to spend more time in the windtunnel for that one race. And that’s the kind of situation we’re in with sportscars.
"Even though it’s one of nine events, with the double points in percentage terms for the championship, it’s a huge percentage. And then you got the accolade on top that goes with it, of winning such a prestigious race, which if you do win it, you can just pin your year on that one race.
"You could, if you wanted to, sacrifice all of it for that one race."
Le Mans the big focus for Toyota
Since its works return to the highest level of endurance racing, Toyota has conquered both the drivers' and the teams' title in WEC in 2014, the former with Davidson and Sebastien Buemi.
However, the Japanese marque has never won the Le Mans 24 Hours - and it's dedicated most of its running in the recent WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard to the Le Mans aero package.
Says Davidson: "Just because we ran the package a lot, doesn’t mean that we’re purely focusing on Le Mans.
"But in terms of what race would we like to win, if there is one race or one thing that we want to come away with this year it has to be Le Mans, because we’ve already won the championship in the past."
Interview by Erwin Jaeggi