Toyota Motorsport GmbH reveal drivers for hybrid LMP1 car
Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) has now confirmed that Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima will share its new hybrid LMP1 car in selected World Endurance Championship races, including the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Alex Wurz, one of Toyota Motorsport GmbH's trio of new LMP1 drivers
Each driver has significant experience at the top level of international motorsport and they have been selected to help the team develop during what is expected to be a learning season in 2012.
One car will be entered in selected rounds, although the final identity of the team and its race schedule remain under discussion.
All three drivers are expected to drive the hybrid LMP1 car for the first time at the roll-out, which will take place early in the New Year at an as-yet-unconfirmed European venue.
As a two-time Le Mans winner and multiple Formula 1 podium finisher, Alex Wurz is famed for his technical ability, speed and consistency.
His excellence in single-seater racing inevitably led to the top and he proved his talents in endurance racing as early as 1996, when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours at the first attempt and became the youngest-ever winner, a record which still stands.
He commented: “As soon as I heard about the possibility to join the team I was instantly excited and keen to be involved. I love endurance racing and I have been a fan of Le Mans since my childhood so I have great memories of Toyotas competing there, particularly the GT-One which was a really sexy, cool-looking car. As an ambitious Le Mans racer, this heritage combined with the immense technical capabilities at TMG makes a very attractive combination. I can’t wait to get started and I am fascinated by the new challenge of competing with a hybrid car. It is the future of racing so I am very excited that Toyota comes in with this technology. I know Toyota has a lot of expertise in this area and I hope this plays to our advantage.”
As a well-qualified single-seater driver, with GP2 races wins complimenting the 2006 A1 Grand Prix championship, Nicolas Lapierre moved into endurance racing in 2007. “To be selected by a company like Toyota for such a new and interesting project is a proud moment for me,” he enthused. “We are at the beginning of a big challenge and I am very excited. TMG has some very impressive capabilities and, together with the hybrid system, we have the potential to develop a really strong car. I am interested to experience the hybrid system for the first time; this adds a different aspect to our challenge and we have to consider some different strategic factors. It’s great to be involved at the beginning with this technology and I hope it will give us a performance advantage.”
Kazuki Nakajima is a successful graduate of the Toyota Young Drivers’ Program, having enjoyed race-winning successes in Formula 3 and GP2 on his way to Formula 1, initially as test driver before progressing to a race seat.
He said: “I am thrilled to have been chosen to become a member of Toyota’s World Endurance Championship team. To return to Le Mans, and to take part in this new championship, means a lot to Toyota so I am very honored to be a part of it. Le Mans will be a new experience for me but it is one I am very much looking forward to. I am looking forward to working closely with Alex and Nicolas; I want to learn about Le Mans from them and I hope I will be able to do a good job.”