“I believe this is an exciting time for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in endurance racing.” said TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Team President Toshio Sato as he announced the Japanese manufacturer’s expanded driver line-up for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as part of its three-car entry in selected races; Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.

“Entering three cars for Spa and Le Mans represents a new challenge for our team. We are working hard to be prepared and we are inspired to win.” continued Sato. 

José María López joins for 2017 and will compete alongside WEC race winners Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. José María, 33, competed in GP2 before moving to the World Touring Car Championship where he won the last three titles.

“It’s great to be part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. This is a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to get to the first race.” said López: “Mike and Kamui are both great team-mates; I will learn plenty from them I am sure.

“Driving an LMP1 car is very different compared to WTCC cars but I am enjoying this challenge. The power and grip of the TS050 HYBRID is incredible and TOYOTA’s hybrid technology is impressive. I am looking forward to my first experience of WEC and particularly Le Mans which is a very special race.”

The 2014 drivers’ World Champions Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson will again team up with Kazuki Nakajima, the only Japanese driver to earn pole position at Le Mans, to compete together for a full season in the other TS050 HYBRID.

Stéphane Sarrazin, part of the TOYOTA WEC team from the start of the project in 2012, retains a significant role and will bring the benefit of his experience to the team’s third car entry as lead driver. The team is still assessing its options for his two team-mates, with a decision expected soon.

The team’s race numbers for the forthcoming season will be announced by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), along with all confirmed Le Mans and WEC entries,  at 4pm French time today (2nd Feb).

SportscarGlobal will be at Monza on 31st March to bring you ‘pictures as it happens’ when TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will present its 2017 team, including an updated TS050 HYBRID.