Third Toyota entry a "realistic option" for 2017

Toyota says it will not enter a third car at Le Mans next season, but could introduce an additional entry for the 2017 season.

Third Toyota entry a "realistic option" for 2017
#1 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima
#1 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro: Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval, Oliver Jarvis and #1 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima
#1 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and #2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway
#2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway
#2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway
Alexander Wurz, Toyota Racing
#2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway
#2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway

Toyota vice-president Rob Leupen has also told Motorsport.com that an increased budget in on the cards for next year.

"We will not run a third car for 2016," said Leupen, "because we are having an entirely new car, so next year it won't happen at Le Mans. Then for 2017 it is a very realistic option.

"We will have an increase [in budget] but because of the ninth race [in Mexico] we have come under added pressure.

"We have some additional commercial resources, but the ninth race confirmation caught us out, which is the same for the others.

"We don't want to compromise our development budget but as I say an extra race means another aero-spec and many other things so naturally it is a big issue for the teams."

Leupen also said that the new turbocharged engine has run on Toyota's in-house dyno in Cologne.

Toyota will run a petrol powered turbo engine and also switch from a super-capacitor to a battery energy-storage system.

Leupen also confirmed that the new car, to be known as the Toyota TS 050 HYBRID, will be upgraded from the 6MJ to the 8MJ energy-retrieval sub-class.

"In early October we had the engine running on the dyno, as well the new Hybrid system which will be connected to the new engine, so we are happy to be much better prepared for 2016," he added.

"We will have a completely new chassis for next year. There are some parts carried over but due to the pressure on weight saving, we will look at every part to save as much weight as possible.

"It is a costly exercise but we need to leave no stone unturned to be at the same level as our competitors next season.

"We will move from six to eight mega joules on energy retrieval which will be a good step."

2016 driver line-ups to be announced in February

The complete 2016 driver line-up for Toyota will be confirmed in Japan next February.

Speculation has mounted in recent months that Alex Wurz will leave the team and will be replaced by test and reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi.

"We will announce the driver line-ups in February. It is fair to say that [Kobayashi] is one of our first options," added Leupen. "He has been with us for a little time now and there is a good relationship."

Leupen confirmed to Motorsport.com that Sam Bird will be the only new face to test a Toyota TS 040 in Bahrain later this month.

Bird was recently confirmed by the FIA WEC as the designated rookie to be given an LMP1 test.

"We are happy to test Sam Bird. For next year we will be fairly consistent with our driver line-up," said Leupen.

"We will only test Sam at Bahrain, he will get good time and we want it to be a good and serious test for him. Mike [Conway] will set the car up for him."

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