In fairness I think that was always true of Peugeot when they were racing against Audi as well – on any given race, it was generally taken as a given that Audi would be the winners when all things went smoothly.
However, Toyota have successfully lobbied for some tweaks to the equalisation formula (mostly around fuel tank capacity) since the last WEC round, so it’s possible this will go some way to redress the balance. With mostly long straights, the very highly developed aero package of the Toyota will have more bearing on the laptime than the added torque that the Audi enjoys, so I could see this being a very close race. What Toyota really needs though, is a three car team, each of which manned by at least two absolute top level drivers. As it stands, they have one very good line up, and one half decent line up, but the Audi line up is strong across the board – all of the Audi drivers are top class and as fast as anyone out there. Toyota need strength in numbers if they’re really to get in amongst the Audis and stop them from running their own race.
Still, I predict a very good battle. I remember the sense of shock which went around the circuit last year when not only did the Tototas match the pace of the Audis, but after a few hours they took the lead and looked like they had a pace for which Audi had no answer. It’s a shame that things went downhill from there, and I certainly expect Audi to be far stronger this year. But what Toyota managed to do in their debut year really should not be underestimated. They’re the real deal, make no mistake.