David Schilke, International Editor
Two rule changes to the FIA World Endurance Championship regulations are meant to keep Toyota racing against Audi for the full season. It was announced today that only one LMP1 car can score points towards the Manufacturer’s World Title in any given event. Secondly, the championship will be decided in a best of six format, so long as the 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the events where points are scored. While rule changes are expected in a new series, these two carry implications as to how tentative Toyota’s involvement in the WEC was before the playing field could be balanced against the Audi juggernaut.
With Peugeot pulling out their program from the FIA WEC, the series was faced with just Audi Sport as the sole manufacturer to field entries for debut season. As it is required that there be at least two manufacturers for there to be a title, the WEC organizers found themselves in a bad spot with Toyota only keen on running at Le Mans in its initial season. With Peugeot out for the year, the task at hand was to entice Toyota Racing to have a go at the title.
“The changes were requested following the withdrawal of Peugeot from the FIA World Endurance Championship last month and were agreed by all parties,” said FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu. “The changes will allow Toyota, who have brought forward their participation in the championship to round 2 in Spa, to fight with Audi for the inaugural World Endurance Championship Manufacturer’s title.
These changes to the regulations will certainly make the 2012 season more exciting for both teams and spectators alike.
“These changes to the regulations will certainly make the 2012 season more exciting for both teams and spectators alike.”
Allowing only one car to score points per event will help Toyota balance a budget while developing the new car. While two cars are confirmed for Le Mans, the team will most likely field a single car for the remaining scheduled events. The possible exception would be at Fuji when the team is on home soil. But now it’s certain the TS030 Hybrid will be running against the Audis at six events, with their first scheduled match up in Spa-Francorchamps this May. Toyota will not be able to attend the 12 Hours of Sebring, the opener held next month.