Jose Maria Lopez joins Toyota for 2017 FIA WEC season
Three-time world touring car champion Jose Maria Lopez, who is currently a member of DS Virgin Formula E Team, excepts one more challenge for the 2017 season – he joins Toyota Gazoo Racing to participate full season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, including 24 hours of Le Mans.
Toyota Gazoo Racing today reveals an expanded driver line-up for the 2017 FIA WEC season, announcing three-car entry in selected races. Toyota will filed three TS050 Hybrids in the races at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans. Jose Maria Lopez will share a car with Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi.
The 2014 world champions Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson will again team up with Kazuki Nakajima, to compete together for a full season in other Toyta TS050 Hybrid LMP1 prototype. Stephane Sarrazin, a member of the Toyota WEC team from the start of the project in 2012, will lead a crew in the third car. The team is still assessing its options for Sarrazin’s teammates.
Race numbers for the forthcoming season will be announced later today by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and FIA, along with other entries for Le Mans 24h and entire WEC season.
“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 Jose Maria 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,” said Toshio Sato, Team President.
“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,” Jose Maria Lopez added.