Toyota expands to three cars for 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours

Toyota will run three cars at the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours, its largest line-up since its return to top-flight sportscar racing in '12

Toyota expands to three cars for 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours

The Japanese manufacturer has announced the widely-anticipated expansion of its Le Mans assault for 2017 together with the confirmation of Jose Maria Lopez as a full-season driver in its two-car World Endurance Championship programme.

The move follows Toyota's loss of victory at Le Mans last year with just six minutes remaining when a joint on a pipe linking a turbo to an intercooler fractured on the TS050 HYBRID shared by Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.

The Toyota Motorsport GmbH squad will also field a third updated TS050 LMP1 car at the Spa WEC round in May as preparation for the 24 Hours.

Sportscar veteran Stephane Sarrazin, who has been moved out of the full-season line-up to make way for three-time World Touring Car champion Lopez, is the only driver confirmed for the additional entry so far.

A statement from Toyota said: "The team is still assessing its options for his two team-mates, with a decision expected soon."

Toyota Gazoo Racing president Toshio Sato said entering three cars at Le Mans was "a new challenge for our team".

"We are working working hard to be prepared and are inspired to win," he added.

Lopez was signed by Toyota after undertaking multiple tests in its LMP1 machinery early last year.

The 33-year-old Argentinian, who will dovetail the WEC campaign with his Formula E programme with DS Virgin Racing, takes the place of Sarrazin alongside Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway.

Lopez described the chance to race for Toyota in the WEC "as a dream come true".

"Driving an LMP1 car is very different compared to WTCC cars, but I am enjoying this challenge," he said.

"The power and grip of the TS050 HYBRID are incredible and Toyota's hybrid technology is impressive."

Toyota will unveil its 2017-spec TS050 at Monza on March 31 ahead of the official two-day WEC test at the Italian track.

shares
comments
Jota decides against defending ELMS title in 2017

Previous article

Jota decides against defending ELMS title in 2017

Next article

Jota to run Jackie Chan's World Endurance Championship LMP2 outfit

Jota to run Jackie Chan's World Endurance Championship LMP2 outfit
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Plus

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
How glitches left Toyota 'worried' about losing unbeaten WEC streak Plus

How glitches left Toyota 'worried' about losing unbeaten WEC streak

The World Endurance Championship's long-awaited return to Monza posed the sternest test yet for Toyota's new hypercar. Although the Japanese marque's GR010 HYBRID remains unbeaten, the victory for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi was far from plain sailing

WEC
Jul 19, 2021
How the next step in the IMSA and WEC convergence can reunite multiple fronts Plus

How the next step in the IMSA and WEC convergence can reunite multiple fronts

OPINION: Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Plus

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness

WEC
Jun 23, 2021
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge helped Toyota to keep clear Plus

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge helped Toyota to keep clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Toyota hits the ton — charting 100 world championship sportscar starts Plus

Toyota hits the ton — charting 100 world championship sportscar starts

The Japanese manufacturer is celebrating its 100th world championship prototype start in this weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Plus

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

OPINION: Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Plus

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory

WEC
May 4, 2021