Toyota plans to use the 2012 season to show the pace of its new hybrid LMP1 car rather than aim for results at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship.
The Japanese manufacturer revealed its gasoline-electric TS030 Hybrid at Paul Ricard on Tuesday, but Toyota Racing team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita moved to temper expectations ahead of its first season competing against Audi for overall honors.
"Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race," he said. "But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition.
"Our target this year is to show the level of our car and particularly the THS-R [hybrid] powertrain. It is important to demonstrate this in a motorsports arena and we want to prove it can bring a performance advantage, both in terms of lap time and fuel efficiency.
"Everyone involved in designing, developing and preparing the car – both at TMG [in Germany] and at Motorsport Division in Japan – has worked incredibly hard to reach this point and we are all very excited to be back on the racetrack again."
Ex-Formula 1 racer and two-time Le Mans winner Alexander Wurz, who will lead Toyota's driver lineup in its first season, believes that the early running of the car has proved that it has the potential to be competitive.
"It was cool to drive the car for the first time," said the Austrian, who raced for Peugeot from 2008-2011. "When we put the slick tire on I could feel the car generates a very good amount of grip, so I think we have a good base and we can turn this into a really fast car.
"I am definitely very happy but my nature is also to be analytical and therefore I know there is still a lot of work to be done."