Toyota have revised the World Endurance Championship Hypercar driver line-up with former Formula 1 driver Nyck de Vries replacing Jose Maria Lopez.
He said he is “super-excited to be returning to endurance racing, especially with Toyota Gazoo Racing.”
“Endurance racing is something that I have always enjoyed and it is a discipline with incredible momentum at the moment,” he continued. “I was with the team in a different role for a few years but never got the chance to race, so it is great that the time has now arrived, and I want to thank the team for their continuous support and faith in me.”
His team mates in the number seven Toyota will be Mike Conway and team principal Kamui Kobayashi. “They are both very talented drivers who achieved a lot, and I am sure we will make a great team,” said de Vries.
De Vries has already signed with Mahindra to return to Formula E, where he won the 2020-21 championship with Mercedes. However it remains to be seen how he will handle the date clash between next year’s Spa-Francorchamps Six Hours and FE’s Berlin EPrix.
Lopez, 40, will step back from the WEC’s top class after seven years of competing for the overall title, which he won in 2020 and ‘21. His record in the Le Mans 24 Hours during that time included victory in 2021 and second place finishes in 2018, ‘19 and ‘22.
However Lopez will remain in WEC, competing in the new GT3 class in a Team Akkodis ASP-run Toyota-powered Lexus.
Toyota has also appointed 2023 Super Formula champion Ritomo Miyata as the reserve driver for its hypercar squad. In addition to that, Miyata will also made a surprise move into Formula 2.
Miyata won two Japanese Formula 4 titles and the Super Formula Lights championship on his way up the single-seater ladder, and has been racing at the top level in multiple disciplines in Japan since 2020. He got his first Super GT win last year, then took the 2023 crown with three victories, and in Super Formula he claimed two wins en route to this year’s title.
Next year he will dovetail an F2 campaign with appearance in the European Le Mans Series’ LMP2 class with Cool Racing. This move comes two months after Toyota appointed Miyata’s SF rival Ryo Hirakawa as McLaren’s F1 reserve driver for 2024.
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