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Monday, June 24, 2024

De Vries replaces Lopez in Toyota’s WEC 2024 line-up

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De Vries will share the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway for what can be his first full marketing campaign within the WEC since he drove for the Racing Workforce Nederland LMP2 workforce within the 2019/20 season.

It marks the primary driver change at Toyota since Ryo Hirakawa joined the #8 LMH automotive in 2022 following Kazuki Nakajima’s choice to retire from racing and transfer right into a managerial function.

Hirakawa, Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi will proceed to pilot the #8 Toyota in 2024 after successful their second consecutive title as a trio in Bahrain earlier this month.

De Vries is known to have signed a contract to race for Toyota in 2023, just for a late call-up by AlphaTauri to set off an exit clause and permit him to fulfil his dream of competing in grand prix racing.

Nonetheless, de Vries’ early ends in F1 fell beneath expectations and he was dropped by the Pink Bull-owned squad after simply 10 rounds, resulting in the Dutchman to re-enter negotiations with Toyota for a WEC drive in 2024.

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Autosport reported in September that de Vries was in line to exchange Lopez, with the 28-year-old being formally introduced by the Japanese producer on Monday.

Alongside his newly-announced WEC commitments, de Vries can even return to Method E subsequent season with Mahindra Racing. He beforehand raced for the new-defunct Mercedes workforce within the all-electric championship between 2019/20 and 2021/22 seasons, successful the title in his second try.

“I’m tremendous excited to be returning to endurance racing, particularly with Toyota Gazoo Racing,” mentioned de Vries.

“Endurance racing is one thing that I’ve all the time loved and it’s a self-discipline with unimaginable momentum in the mean time. 

“I used to be with the workforce in a distinct function for a number of years however by no means received the prospect to race, so it’s nice that the time has now arrived, and I need to thank the workforce for his or her steady assist and religion in me. 

“I’m very a lot trying ahead to sharing automotive #7 with each Mike and Kamui. They’re each very gifted drivers who achieved lots, and I’m positive we’ll make a fantastic workforce.” 

Picture by: Toyota Racing

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – Hybrid: Jose Maria Lopez

De Vries’ Toyota transfer comes on the expense of Lopez, who will go away the Hypercar squad after a six-season stint that yielded two general titles and one victory within the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Nonetheless, the Argentine will preserve ties with Toyota subsequent 12 months after agreeing to symbolize the Japanese marque’s Lexus model within the LMGT3 class.

Lopez will drive one of many two Lexus RC F GT3s entered by ASP within the new-for-2024 class, with the remaining line-up to be revealed at a later date.

“I need to create a system that permits skilled drivers to offer suggestions to youthful drivers, simply as José can be driving in WEC GT3,” mentioned Toyota WEC Vice Chairman Kazuki Nakajima, whereas saying that the WEC Problem Program that Ritomo Miyata has been a part of can be rebranded to TGR World Driver Problem Program.

“I might additionally wish to make this program a collaboration amongst numerous bases to create an setting the place not solely Japanese drivers but additionally many different drivers can problem themselves.”  

Lexus can be one of many multitude of producers competing in within the LMGT3 class, which can also be anticipated to obtain entries from Porsche, Corvette, Aston Martin, Ferrari, BMW, Lamborghini and Ford.

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