Toyota Gazoo Racing has published their FIA WEC program today.
Around 12 hours before ACO held the press conference about the entry list in this year’s WEC and Le Mans, the Japanese constructor revealed that their 2017 program will include a lot of familiar faces. There is, however, a single change.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and newcomer Jose Maria Lopez will drive in Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 number 7, while Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima drive the number 8 car. Stephane Sarrazin will drive in the number 9 car at the six hours race at Spa as well as the 24 hours race at Le Mans. They haven’t yet announced the two remaining drivers, but it’s almost certain that one of them will be a Japanese driver.
That only means that Toyota is really determined to chase a Le Mans victory for the land of the rising sun, after Mazda remains to be the only Japanese brand who has won the prestige race. Toyota was incredibly close to win in 2016, but five minutes before the chequered flag Kazuki Nakajima was hit by some technical problems while leading the race. There were pictures floating around, when the car stalled just before the finish line, before he managed to restart the car and drive the last lap. However, it wasn’t quick enough to be classified.
It’s still unclear what Toyota Gazoo Racing will do with Sebastien Buemi and Jose Maria Lopez, since both of them will drive Formula E championship at the same time, and one of their race will clash with the six hours race at the Nürburgring. It all possibly depends on how well the two drivers do in the respective championships, and at least they are not sitting in the same car in WEC, so it is possible to complete the races with only two drivers. But if that is the case, they will be out of the championship.