TOYOTA GAZOO RACING CONFIRMS 2017 WEC PLANS

Donderdag 2 februari 2017 — TOYOTA GAZOO Racing can confirm an expanded driver line-up for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as part of its three-car entry in selected races.

To demonstrate its commitment to endurance racing, and to enhance its chances of victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, TOYOTA will enter three TS050 HYBRIDs in the races at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.

José María López joins for 2017 and will compete alongside WEC race winners Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. José María, 33, competed in GP2 before moving to the World Touring Car Championship where he won the last three titles.

The 2014 drivers’ World Champions Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson will again team up with Kazuki Nakajima, the only Japanese driver to earn pole position at Le Mans, to compete together for a full season in the other TS050 HYBRID.

Stéphane Sarrazin, part of the TOYOTA WEC team from the start of the project in 2012, retains a significant role and will bring the benefit of his experience to the team’s third car entry as lead driver. The team is still assessing its options for his two team-mates, with a decision expected soon.

Race numbers for the forthcoming season will be announced by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), along with all confirmed Le Mans and WEC entries, on 2 February at 4pm French time.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will present its 2017 team, including an updated TS050 HYBRID, on 31 March at Monza, prior to the two-day official test for all WEC participants at the Italian circuit.

Toshio Sato, Team President: “I believe this is an exciting time for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in endurance racing. Entering three cars for Spa and Le Mans represents a new challenge for our team. We are working hard to be prepared and we are inspired to win. I would like to welcome José María to our team; I am confident he will fit in well as he is quick, intelligent and a strong team player. Our existing drivers have already proven their abilities in endurance racing; all are race winners and we are very happy to work together again.”

José María López: “It’s great to be part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. This is a dream come true for me and I can't wait to get to the first race. Mike and Kamui are both great team-mates; I will learn plenty from them I am sure. Driving an LMP1 car is very different compared to WTCC cars but I am enjoying this challenge. The power and grip of the TS050 HYBRID is incredible and TOYOTA’s hybrid technology is impressive. I am looking forward to my first experience of WEC and particularly Le Mans which is a very special race.”

Driver Profiles

Sébastien Buemi

Born                            31 October 1988, Aigle, Switzerland

Le Mans debut            2012

Le Mans starts            5

Le Mans best result    2nd (2013)

WEC starts                  34

WEC wins                    5

WEC best season        1st (2014)

 

Anthony Davidson

Born                            18 April 1979, Hemel Hempstead, Great Britain

Le Mans debut            2003

Le Mans starts            9

Le Mans best result    2nd (2013)

WEC starts                  33

WEC wins                    5

WEC best season        1st (2014)

 

Kazuki Nakajima

Born                            11 January 1985, Okazaki, Japan

Le Mans debut            2012

Le Mans starts            5

Le Mans best result    4th (2013)

WEC starts                  28

WEC wins                    2

WEC best season        7th (2015)

 

Mike Conway

Born                            19 August 1983, Sevenoaks, Great Britain

Le Mans debut            2013

Le Mans starts            3

Le Mans best result    2nd (2016)

WEC starts                  28

WEC wins                    2

WEC best season        3rd (2016)

 

Kamui Kobayashi

Born                            13 September 1986, Hyogo, Japan

Le Mans debut            2013

Le Mans starts            2

Le Mans best result    2nd (2016)

WEC starts                  17

WEC wins                    1

WEC best season        3rd (2016)

 

José María López

Born                            26 April 1983, Río Tercero, Argentina

Le Mans debut            2017

Le Mans starts            0

Le Mans best result    n/a

WEC starts                  0

WEC wins                    0

WEC best season        n/a

 

Stéphane Sarrazin

Born                            2 November 1975, Alès, France

Le Mans debut            2001

Le Mans starts            15

Le Mans best result    2nd (2007, 2009, 2013 & 2016)

WEC starts                  41

WEC wins                    3

WEC best season        3rd (2013 & 2016)

 

High-resolution copyright-free photos are available for editorial use at www.toyota-motorsport-photos.com.

 

About TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in the World Endurance Championship:

TOYOTA first competed in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing. Since 1985, TOYOTA cars have raced in 18 Le Mans 24 Hours races, achieving a best result of second place on five occasions. TOYOTA entered the revived WEC in 2012, combining the expertise from TOYOTA Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre, where the hybrid powertrain is developed, with TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH’s support and facilities for chassis development. The multi-national team is based in Cologne, Germany and includes engineers from TOYOTA’s motorsport and hybrid department, who deliver technology and know-how back into road car development. Since 2012, TOYOTA has earned 10 pole positions and won 11 races, finishing on the podium a total of 31 times. In 2014, the team won the drivers’ and manufacturers’ World Championships with the TS040 HYBRID while a year later TOYOTA celebrated 30 years since its first Le Mans entry. TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH combines its role in the WEC project with its other activities, such as the supply of a World Rally Championship engine for TOYOTA’s return to the category in 2017, as well as its engineering services business and customer motorsport activities.

www.toyota-motorsport.com / www.facebook.com/toyotamotorsport / @Toyota_Hybrid

 

Media contact: Alastair Moffitt, Marketing & Communications Manager: alastair.moffitt@toyota-motorsport.com

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Stephan Lesuisse

Toyota Belgium