It has been a fixture in the Toyota and Lexus stables since the 1999 season, when it first campaigned a Supra in the JGTC, but sources have suggested to Motorsport.com that a split between Team LeMans and Toyota could be imminent.
Keizo Takahashi, General Manager of Toyota Gazoo Racing, told Motorsport.com when asked about the situation: “I can neither confirm nor deny.”
It’s believed Toyota still intends to run six of its all-new GR Supra cars in SUPER GT’s top division next season, raising the prospect of a new team joining the Toyota camp.
KCMG has previously been linked to such a move and appears the most likely candidate to fill the breach left by Team LeMans, given its existing relationship with Toyota in Super Formula, where it fields a single car for Kamui Kobayashi.
Team LeMans could yet defend its SUPER GT title with a different manufacturer, namely Honda, which could also entail a switch of allegiance in Super Formula.
Yuichi Nakayama, Team LeMans
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
It has run Toyota power units in Formula Nippon/Super Formula since engine competition was reintroduced in 2006.
It’s also unclear whether Honda would field a sixth NSX-GT in SUPER GT to accommodate Team LeMans or whether it could replace one of its current GT500 outfits.
Should Team LeMans leave the Toyota fold, it raises the prospect of newly-crowned champions Oshima and Yamashita needing to find alternative drives in SUPER GT, although Yamashita could elect to drop out of the series and focus on his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments in 2020 instead.
Yamashita has been placed with the High Class Racing LMP2 team for the 2019/20 campaign and is a contender for a role in Toyota’s hypercar programme in 2020/21.