NAGOYA – Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda is considering taking part in a 24-hour endurance race in Germany in mid-May as a member of the Lexus LFA supercar’s racing team, as he did last year, Toyota officials said Monday.
Toyoda, who is spearheading the automaker’s efforts to regain consumer trust in its vehicle quality after a series of safety problems, may take the wheel if Toyota’s global recalls continue as planned, industry observers said.
Earlier in the day, the automaker announced a list of seven drivers for its racing team for the 38th endurance race at the Nurburgring Circuit from May 13 to 16.
Although the name of the 53-year-old Toyoda was not included, a Toyota spokesman said it is possible the president could be added to the list of the GAZOO Racing team.
The spokesman said, “It has not yet been determined (whether Toyoda will participate).”
Last May, Toyoda competed in both the qualifiers and final of the Nurburgring race — driving the Lexus LFA 4.8-liter V-10 supercar — before he assumed the automaker’s presidency June 23.
Toyoda drew flak at the time from critics both inside and outside the company who said he should be aware of his responsibility as head of the giant automaker, which incurred a huge loss in the 2008 business year to March 31, 2009.
But Toyoda decided to take the wheel anyway to log more data on the LFA under the grueling racing conditions of the Nurburgring Circuit.
At the time, he said his participation would enable Toyota to “benefit many customers because we’ll apply the knowhow we accumulate through this event to our production models.”
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