Interestingly, Toyota will be the only manufacturer battling for outright honours at Le Mans this weekend without a three-car LMP1 team. The decision to run two cars instead of three might’ve cost Toyota a shot at victory last year but the team hasn’t changed its approach and has said the additional funding required to run a third car is better spent on research and development. That’s a fair point. You’re probably better off with two good cars than three which are not ready.
However, there are distinct advantages to running a three-car team at Le Mans because the extra car provides insurance against problems hitting the other two. The statistics also tend to back this up – only twice in the last fifteen years has the race been won by a manufacturer with only two outright contenders on the grid. In a race where reliability is everything, more cars equals more chances to reach the finish, and several of Audi’s 13 victories mightn’t have been possible with only a two-car squad.
It will be interesting to see what impact reliability has on the LMP1 field this weekend.