Nakajima out to prove himself with Toyota drive for Le Mans 24 Hours

Kazuki Nakajima believes becoming part of Toyota's Le Mans programme gives him a chance to prove himself all over again after the end of his Formula 1 stint

Nakajima out to prove himself with Toyota drive for Le Mans 24 Hours

The Japanese driver contested 36 grands prix for Williams between 2007 and '09, and then returned to domestic racing after losing his F1 seat.

The 27-year-old's Toyota sportscar deal marks his return to the international scene, and sees him sharing the #7 car with Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre.

"It's nice to come back to a world-class racing field again, and this is special for me because it's with Toyota," Nakajima told AUTOSPORT. "F1 was kind of together with Toyota [as engine supplier to Williams], but this is much more important for the company and me.

"I think I have to prove myself again. But the way to work here is different to F1 - you have to drive not only to prove yourself but also to work for the team and get a good result as a team. I think it will be a different way but I'm sure I can prove myself.

"It's more important to run more consistently, not just doing one quick lap and that's it. It's a different style to formula car racing. I like it this way. I have good team-mates like Alex and Nico, and I know that they are really good team players. I think I'm in a really good situation and I can work quite relaxed and learn from the other drivers."

Nakajima suspects there will be elements to the Le Mans experience that he will not be able to grasp until he has raced there once.

"I have no experience in the Le Mans 24 Hours, so still I cannot say I'm fully ready," he said. "I'm sure this is something that basically you have to experience in racing. Until you race here for the first time, I think you'll never be ready.

"But because I have some experience in Japanese GTs, for traffic management I think I can be a little bit better than some other rookies."

He said Toyota's simulator meant the Le Mans circuit held few surprises for him on the test day earlier this month, but admitted he still had to learn its intricacies.

"It was really special to drive here, but actually because I have been working on the simulator in TMG quite a lot, I wasn't so confused by the track," said Nakajima.

"I need to learn a lot more, because the conditions are changing all the time, and I'm sure when you have good conditions the feeling will be completely different. I still have a good feeling with this track, and it's very exciting through the Porsche Curves and other places.

"It's maybe kind of similar to Monaco or another street track because it's so narrow and the barriers are really close. It's not like F1, it's a completely different world and I'm sure the atmosphere will be really special."

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Series WEC
Drivers Kazuki Nakajima
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Matt Beer
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