Toyota Gazoo Racing president Hisatake Murata says his team ‘warmly welcomes’ championship newcomers Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus at the 8 Hours of Portimao where, in contrast, the Japanese manufacturer celebrates its 100th start in world championship competition.
Toyota will start a world championship event for the 100th time at next week’s eight-hour enduro, having made its first start in the 1983 Fuji 1000KM race, which back then was a round of the World Sportscar Championship.
Since then, it has grown into one of the household names in global endurance racing, winning 31 races, three world championships and three overall victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
At Portimao, it will be encountered with an all-new opponent, as American privateers Glickenhaus make their long-awaited world championship debut with its 007 Hypercar, driven by Ryan Briscoe, Romain Dumas and Richard Westbrook.
Ahead of the historical encounter at the Portuguese Grand Prix venue, team president Murata extended a welcoming hand to their new rivals, while also paying tribute to his own team’s milestone achievement.
“Although we are always looking to the future, for the next challenge, the next victory and the next technical innovation, it is satisfying to take a moment and look back on Toyota’s history in endurance racing,” he said.
“Everyone in the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team today is proud to be part of these 100 races. This anniversary gives us the chance to enjoy that history and remember the great names, the exciting races and the big sacrifices which are part of this fascinating story.”
“While we celebrate our 100th race, we warmly welcome Jim Glickenhaus and his team to WEC for their first event, which I hope will be an exciting one for the fans.”
“The Hypercar category is all about competition and it starts this year with Glickenhaus, before Audi, Ferrari, Peugeot and Porsche join us in the near future.
“We are ready for the challenge but we saw areas to improve in Spa. We worked hard in the last weeks to continue strengthening our reliability and our operations to be ready for Portimao.”
Sebastien Buemi, who won the opening round of the 2021 campaign in Spa-Francorchamps, holds the distinction of taking part in the most races for Toyota.
The 8 Hours of Portimao will mark his 61st race with the Japanese manufacturer, the most of any driver. He also holds the highest numbers of win with 18, including all three Le Mans victories.
“Of course, it’s an honour to have participated in and won more races for Toyota in endurance racing than anyone else,” Buemi said.
“It’s a nice anniversary and shows Toyota’s commitment to endurance racing, but my focus is on the future: the next race and particularly Le Mans.
“So Portimao is the next priority and, as it’s a shorter event than Spa, we need to find the right set-up direction quickly and get a lot of information from the practice sessions. We will be working flat-out to win again.”