The Japanese manufacturer has confirmed that a succession plan was already in place for the 60-year-old to be succeeded by David Floury as technical director of the organization that masterminds its World Endurance Championship program and develops the engines for the World Rally Championship GR Yaris Rally 1.
The confirmation was made by long-time chief engineer on the WEC team Floury, who has been given the technical directorship on an acting basis.
“The transition was expected anyway, but the timing may have been a bit different,” said Floury.
“With regard to Pascal, he is expected to stay within the Toyota organization with a new mission.”
That adds weight to the theory that Vasselon was going to step down at the end of this year from a job he had held since 2006 when Toyota was still involved in Formula 1.
He appeared set for a key role in Toyota’s program to put a prototype powered by a hydrogen combustion engine on the grid at the 2027 Le Mans 24 Hours.
The statement from Toyota announcing the change said that it “expects him to resume an active role soon,” which suggests that the plan remains in place.
Vasselon was told of the reshuffle ahead of the WEC team’s first test of the year at Aragon with the GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar in January.
He subsequently did not travel to Spain and his “involvement in day-to-day operations temporarily paused”, according to a short statement issued by TRGE.
Pascarl Vasselon, Toyota Racing
Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt
What hasn’t been revealed was the reasoning for the timing of the move, which Floury would only say “came from top management”.
The departure of a key architect of Toyota’s successes in the WEC, including five Le Mans victories, without fanfare suggests a fall-out within the motorsport management hierarchy within Toyota.
The move was implemented by TGRE president Masato Hirai, vice-chairman Kazuki Nakajima and managing director Rob Leupen, according to the statement.
Vasselon’s replacement is part of a strategy “to develop the next generation of company leadership” and the “first step in an updated management organization”, it continued.
Floury had been lined up as Vasselon’s replacement for some time.
He was chief race engineer from the beginning of the WEC project in 2012 as part of the link-up with the French ORECA team, which provided operational support for the Toyota WEC squad.
The Frenchman dovetailed his Toyota duties with his role as technical director of French motorsport group ORECA until joining the staff at Cologne in 2021 as deputy technical director.
Vasselon moved to Toyota in 2005 from Michelin, where he oversaw its F1 programme.
The Frenchman was initially head of chassis research and development before his promotion to the role of technical director in 2006 in place of Mike Gascoyne.