Toyota have announced that they’ll be running three cars at Le Mans this year, the first time they’ve done so since 1999.
The LMP1 class is looking a little thin this year thanks to the withdrawal of Audi, but at Le Mans (and at the preceding round in Spa) Toyota will bolster the field slightly with the addition of a third car.
They also confirmed that José María López will join as a full-season driver, replacing Stéphane Sarrazin alongside Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway. The Argentinean tested for Toyota throughout 2016 after he said he’d like to make the switch to endurance racingand impressed enough to secure a full-time seat. Although López is a three-time World Touring Car champion he’s probably best known for his long and memorable F1 career with the incredible USF1 team.
López said “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.”
Despite Sarrazin losing his full-time seat he will be one of the drivers of the third car, while the other two are yet to be announced.
It’s hoped that the extra car will increase Toyota’s chances of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which they came agonisingly close to achieving last year.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s president Toshio Sato said “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.”
Three Toyotas at Spa and three Toyotas at Le Mans. Your move, Porsche!