Toyota announces Nicolas Lappierre's return to its LMP1 team

Nicolas Lapierre will make a return to Toyota's World Endurance Championship squad two and a half years after being dropped, the Japanese manufacturer has confirmed

Toyota announces Nicolas Lappierre's return to its LMP1 team

The reigning WEC LMP2 champion has been brought in to race Toyota's third TS050 HYBRID at the Le Mans 24 Hours and, by way of preparation, the Spa WEC round in May alongside Stephane Sarrazin and reigning Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto.

He takes the seat that had seemed destined to go to Toyota development driver Ryo Hirakawa, who is being groomed for the LMP1 squad with programmes in the European Le Mans Series in 2016-17.

Lapierre was stood down by Toyota ahead of the Fuji WEC event in October 2014 in the wake of accidents in wet conditions at both Le Mans and the following Austin round.

It was initially communicated by Toyota that he was being rested from the TS040 HYBRID he shared with eventual world champions Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, but it subsequently emerged that he had been dropped from the line-up and he never drove for the team again despite remaining under contract through 2015.

Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Toshio Sato said: "We know Nicolas well and we have maintained a positive relationship.

"He is a very quick driver who understands what it takes to succeed at Le Mans, so I am sure he will fit into the team quickly and easily."

Lapierre, who took six WEC victories with Toyota in 2012-14, thanked the Japanese manufacturer for the opportunity to return and said he was "looking forward to racing an LMP1 car again".

Sato described Kunimoto, 26, as "a promising driver who has shown his speed and determination in Japanese racing".

"In testing he has been consistently fast, as well as a team player, so I am confident he will adapt to the demands of WEC," he added.

Toyota will unveil the 2017 version of its TS050 HYBRID on Friday at Monza ahead of the official two-day 'prologue' test at the Italian venue.

Reigning LMP1 world champion Romain Dumas will take Lapierre's place at the P2 title-winning Signatech Alpine squad for Le Mans and Spa alongside Gustavo Menezes and Matt Rao.

Former Indy Lights and GP2 driver Andre Negrao will drive the team's second Alpine-badged ORECA-Gibson 07 alongside Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues, with this car starting its 2017 WEC campaign at Spa in May.

shares
comments
First shots of Porsche's new WEC LMP1 car highlight rules changes
Previous article

First shots of Porsche's new WEC LMP1 car highlight rules changes

Next article

Ex-F1 driver Vitaly Petrov in line for final Manor WEC LMP2 seat

Ex-F1 driver Vitaly Petrov in line for final Manor WEC LMP2 seat
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

WEC
Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021