Nakajima set for Toyota off-track role after stepping down from WEC seat

Kazuki Nakajima looks set for an off-track role with Toyota next season after the end of his driving career with the Japanese manufacturer's World Endurance Championship squad.

Nakajima set for Toyota off-track role after stepping down from WEC seat

The 36-year-old hinted that he is likely to remain with the Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC team in a new capacity in the wake of the announcement on Wednesday that he will not be part of its driver line-up next season.

Nakajima was coy about his plans for 2022 and whether or not he will continue driving for Toyota domestically in Japan.

"There is, of course, a bit of sadness to be away from a race drive," he said.

"But also I am really looking for the future already: I have some sadness and also have a positive feeling."

He called the announcement on Wednesday "part of a big change coming".

Asked if that would involve a new role with the Toyota WEC team, he replied: "Probably yes, but I cannot give you any idea at the moment — that is one of the options."

"Could be" was his response when asked if the new role could involve mentoring young drivers and working with Toyota's development programme.

Nakajima's future at Toyota will become clearer in December, according to the team, when his replacement in the WEC squad will also be announced.

This looks certain to be Ryo Hirakawa, although there has been no confirmation from Toyota so far.

It remains unclear whether Nakajima will retain a Toyota contract to continue driving for the manufacturer in Japan.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Asked if he will continue in Super Formula with the TOM'S Toyota team, he said: "That is also not decided, [but] that is part of the plan.

"We are still talking about what to do next year and also to try to finalise all the details and what I can do here [in the WEC]."

On the subject of retirement from the cockpit, he said: "I still believe I can do something as a race car driver.

"But you never know; I haven't decided yet."

Read Also:

Toyota's decision to stand down Nakajima from the WEC driving duties after nine seasons that encompassed three Le Mans 24 Hours wins and a championship title was made in the past month.

It follows a second test for Hirakawa in the latest Toyota GR010 HYBRID at Barcelona in September.

Nakajima listed his first victory at Le Mans in 2018 with Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi, as well as his near-miss with Buemi and Anthony Davidson at the French enduro in 2016 as the most memorable moments of his WEC career with Toyota.

"The 2018 victory was the best and at the same time what happened in '16 was, of course, a sad moment, but I believe this was maybe key to make us strong and to be ready for the first victory," he explained.

Nakajima was at the wheel of the race-leading Toyota TS050 HYBRID at Le Mans in 2016 when it lost power with six minutes to go.

shares
comments

Related video

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster
Previous article

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

Next article

Ferrari gets BoP boost ahead of Bahrain WEC finale

Ferrari gets BoP boost ahead of Bahrain WEC finale
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022