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Friday, June 14, 2024

Why Toyota selected Lopez over Miyata to exchange Conway at Le Mans

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The choice to recall Lopez to the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar for the double-points World Endurance Championship spherical on 15/16 June was “a quite simple one”, in response to Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe director Rob Leupen. 

He defined that it was an easy transfer to carry the Argentinian again after Mike Conway broke two ribs and his collarbone in a biking accident on Thursday “due to his expertise and the inexperience of Ritomo”.

Miyata, who received each the Tremendous Method and Tremendous GT titles in Japan final yr was named as check and reserve driver for Toyota’s WEC assault firstly of the yr, concurrently it was confirmed that Lopez would get replaced within the #7 entry alongside Conway and Kamui Kobayashi by Nyck de Vries after six years with the producer. 

“Ritomo has by no means pushed right here at Le Mans and he’s with Swiss outfit Cool Racing in LMP2, and the opposite possibility was Jose,” mentioned Leupen. 

“We mentioned it inside the crew, and with Kamui [who is also team principal of the WEC squad] concerned and Akio Toyoda [Toyota chairman] again in Japan, and it was determined it was finest for everybody, together with Ritomo, for Jose to leap in #7.”

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Leupen harassed that Miyata, who will get his first expertise of the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans on Sunday within the official pre-event Take a look at Day, would stay on name for Toyota for the rest of the occasion. 

“You by no means know – it’s nonetheless a protracted week,” he acknowledged. 

Ritomo Miyata, #36 au TOM’S GR Supra

Picture by: Masahide Kamio

Miyata will get some laps with Toyota on Sunday in addition to driving the Cool squad’s #37 ORECA-Gibson 07 LMP2. He’s listed in each the #7 and #8 automobiles for the day-long check. 

Leupen revealed that the more durable choice for Toyota was tips on how to substitute Lopez on the Auto Sport Promotion Lexus crew through which he’s contesting the total WEC this yr within the new LMGT3 class. 

Expatriate Briton Jack Hawksworth has been flown in from the USA to take the seat for the skilled driver in ASP’s #87 Lexus RC F GT3 alongside Esteban Masson and Takeshi Kimura.

Leupen revealed that switching Miyata to the Lexus was thought of, however he defined that Ben Barnicoat, who received final yr’s IMSA SportsCar Championship GT Daytona Professional title in a Vasser Sullivan Lexus with Hawksworth, was not an possibility. 

Barnicoat will racing AF Corse’s LMP2 entry with Nicolas Varrone and Francois Perrodo at Le Mans. 

Hawksworth described the circumstances main as much as his Le Mans debut at a “whirlwind”. 

#14 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3: Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat

#14 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3: Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat

Picture by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

He revealed that he was driving to the observe from his resort at Mid-Ohio the place he was scheduled to race a Toyota GR Supra GT4 Evo for the Hattori Motorsports crew this weekend when he acquired the decision from Lexus on Friday. 

“I used to be on my option to the circuit after which I obtained a telephone name from Andy Graves from Toyota Racing Growth [which oversees the Lexus programme in the USA],” defined Hawksworth. “That was it – I used to be on my approach right here!

“I went to the observe, picked up my stuff, after which I went again to the resort, after which straight to Detroit and booked a flight on the best way.”

He arrived at Le Mans late on Saturday morning, in time for ASP’s scheduled scrutineering slot at lunchtime. 

“Le Mans was on my bucket listing, however not on my speedy radar,” he mentioned. “To have the ability to do it with Lexus, a model I’ve been racing with for therefore lengthy, is form of cool.”

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