Toyota drivers say "politics" will determine Alpine battle

Kazuki Nakajima says he is worried that "politics" will determine how Toyota's battle with new top-class FIA World Endurance Championship rival manufacturer Alpine will play out in 2021.

Toyota drivers say "politics" will determine Alpine battle
Listen to this article

Alpine announced last September that it will step up to the top class this year after five seasons in the LMP2 ranks, using the Oreca-built Rebellion R-13 LMP1 chassis.

It is so far the only confirmed entry for the 2021 WEC season using the grandfathered LMP1 ruleset, which is being replaced by the new Le Mans Hypercar rules.

With the new LMH machines set to be considerably slower than the LMP1 cars they replace, the way the Balance of Performance is set between the two sets of regulations could have a major bearing on the battle between Toyota and Alpine.

Nakajima admitted that Toyota will face tough competition in the fight for a fourth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory against the proven Rebellion-Gibson package, which enjoyed a more-or-less trouble-free run reliability-wise at Le Mans last year.

But the three-time La Sarthe winner says that it will be down to race organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest to ensure there is a fair battle given the older car's theoretical performance advantage over the new Toyota.

"I think [Le Mans] is going to be quite different," Nakajima told Motorsport.com. "They have a car that can finish 24 hours without issues, they have good reliability. And then it’s really down to the EoT between us and them.

#36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470: Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao, Pierre Thiriet

#36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470: Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao, Pierre Thiriet

Photo by: Paul Foster

"It will be more difficult for us because our speed is limited anyway, but their speed is really down to the EoT. Speed-wise, we have the potential to be exactly the same, so I think it’s going to be a real race next year. I don’t know if it’s right or not.

"It’s really down to politics. I’m not part of it, but I can understand both sides. From our side, it would be very unfair, but of course [the ACO] wants to have a good competition. Let’s see what happens. The race next year should be interesting, they will be a very strong competitor."

Kamui Kobayashi said he believes that the ACO must be careful not to put off potential entrants into the LMH division by pegging back Toyota's speed too much.

"I don’t know what they will do about the BoP," the 2019/20 WEC champion told Motorsport.com. "It’s a bit strange because they [Alpine] are pretty fast anyway. We lost a lot of laptime [compared to the LMP1], so I don’t know what will happen.

"It won’t be fun if the Alpine is quicker than us because then nobody will go to the Hypercar class. I don’t know what they are aiming for.

"For us it’s a new car, and the Alpine is an established car and the team has experience. Still they don’t announce the BoP yet, so I don’t know what they want to do."

shares
comments

Related video

Vandoorne, Gelael join JOTA for 2021 WEC season
Previous article

Vandoorne, Gelael join JOTA for 2021 WEC season

Next article

Toyota reveals first pictures of new Le Mans hypercar

Toyota reveals first pictures of new Le Mans hypercar
Load comments
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Prime

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

WEC
May 9, 2022
How Toyota's WEC dominance was curbed at stormy Sebring Prime

How Toyota's WEC dominance was curbed at stormy Sebring

Toyota’s stranglehold on the FIA World Endurance Championship ended at the 2022 opener at Sebring, but all accusing eyes were on the Balance of Performance system as the key to the shake-up. Here's how it unfolded, to see Alpine celebrating under a stormy sky having blown away the defending champions...

WEC
Mar 21, 2022
Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year Prime

Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year

Team Penske is gearing up for its role in running Porsche’s LMDh programme from 2023 by entering this year's World Endurance Championship with an LMP2 car. Although the team is considering 2022 as a season to learn, it is no less serious about winning than ever - which should make the already fiercely competitive class even more so

WEC
Mar 17, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Prime

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022
Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC Prime

Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC

OPINION: The adoption by IMSA of the GTP name for its forthcoming LMDh versus Le Mans Hypercar era in 2023 appeals to fans of nostalgia - but it undermines the commonality achieved by bringing its rulebook into line with the WEC. GTP or Hypercar, both sides should settle on a single name

WEC
Feb 15, 2022
Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing Prime

Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing

Few disciplines of motorsport offer better possibilities to build a colossus of the track than sportscars. For Autosport's recent Monsters of Motorsport special issue, we picked out some of the finest (and not so fine) that have graced sportscar classics including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring

Le Mans
Feb 4, 2022
Why F1-snubbed Davidson has no regrets in retirement Prime

Why F1-snubbed Davidson has no regrets in retirement

He may not have won the Le Mans 24 Hours - falling agonisingly short in 2016 - and didn't get the opportunities in Formula 1 his talents merited. But after calling time on his professional career last month, Anthony Davidson says his pride in his performances with Peugeot and Toyota in LMP1 mean more than the results he achieved

WEC
Dec 17, 2021
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Prime

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive FIA World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Motorsport.com recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021