H Toyota είχε ανακοινώσει μέσα στον Οκτώβριο ότι επιστρέφει και αυτή στο Le Mans με ένα υβριδικό πρωτότυπο αγωνιστικό στη κορυφαία κατηγορία LMP1. Χθες οι Ιάπωνες ανακοίνωσαν και τους οδηγούς του αγωνιστικού που θα εξελιχθεί και θα κατασκευαστεί στη Κολωνία με τον βενζινοκινητήρα να είναι ο ίδιος που φορούσε φέτος η Rebellion Racing.

Πρόκειται για τους Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre και Kazuki Nakajima. Τον πρώτο φαντάζομαι ότι όλοι θα τον έχετε ακουστά αφού ο Αυστριακός, είναι πρώην πιλότος της F1, αλλά έχει κερδίσει και με την Peugeot τον 24-ωρο του Le Mans πριν από 2 χρόνια, ενώ στο παλμαρέ του έχει νίκες και σε άλλους αγώνες αντοχής, όπως είναι τα 1.000 χλμ στο Spa, ο 12ωρος αγώνας στο Sebring και άλλα πολλά.

Ο Nicolas Lapierre είναι ένας Γάλλος οδηγός που έχει οδηγήσει κυρίως στις κατηγορίες A1GP και F3, ενώ πέρυσι κέρδισε και στο Sebring. Τέλος ο Kazuki Nakajima, είναι και αυτός πρώην πιλότος της F1, αφού από το 2007 έως το 2009, οδηγούσε για λογαριασμό της Williams-Toyota. Δυνατό το team οδηγών της Toyota. Για να δούμε πως θα τα πάει. Περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες μπορείς να βρεις στο δελτίο τύπου που ακολουθεί.

[Πηγή: Toyota]

Δελτίο Τύπου

Driver Line-up for FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012

Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 2011 – Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces 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.

All three drivers will also work to learn more about the specific demands of endurance racing, as well as to continuously develop the car. In the near future, this will include sessions on Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG)’s driving simulator, which already features the Le Mans track and an LMP1 vehicle model.

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.

The drivers made the following statements;

Alex Wurz:

“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. So I am extremely happy to be involved, along with Nicolas and Kazuki. One of the most important things in endurance racing is the connection between the drivers. If the drivers are working together it is a very productive situation for the team and ultimately improves lap times and results. Nicolas has shown his speed while I really rate Kazuki as a person and a driver so I think we will be a strong team. 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.”

Nicolas Lapierre:

“To be selected by a company like Toyota for such a new and interesting project is a proud moment for me. 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 raced against Kazuki in GP2; he is definitely a fast driver and also a good team player, which is very important in endurance racing. Alex is a two-time Le Mans winner so he is a great benchmark for us, but he is also able to build a strong team spirit. I believe the choice of drivers is very good and I am looking forward to working together as a team.”

Kazuki Nakajima:

“I am thrilled to have been chosen to become a member of Toyota’s World Endurance Championship team. Le Mans will be a new experience for me but it is one I am very much looking forward to. The challenge of Le Mans is famous throughout motorsport so I can’t wait to race there for the first time. Obviously it is a new experience but I am familiar with endurance racing thanks to my time in Japanese Super GT and this will help me to adjust. It’s great to join such a strong driver line-up, especially because I am already familiar with both of my new team-mates, having worked with Alex in Formula 1 and raced against Nicolas in GP2. 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.”

Alex Wurz Profile

Born 15 February 1974, Waidhofen an der Thaya, Austria Height 1.87m Weight 79kg Best achievement Youngest Le Mans winner (1996)

Career History 1986 BMX World Championship: 1st BMX European Championship: 2nd 1989 Austrian Kart Championship: 2nd 1991 European Formula Ford Cup: 2nd Austrian Formula Ford Championship: 2nd 1992 European Formula Ford Cup: 1st, Austrian Formula Ford Championship: 1st German Formula Ford Championship: 1st 1993 Austrian Formula 3 Championship: 1st 1994-95 German Formula 3 Championship 1996 Le Mans 24 Hours (Team Joest): 1st International Touring Car Championship (Opel): 16th 1997 Formula 1 (Benetton): 14th, FIA GT Championship (AMG Mercedes): 10th Formula 1 (Benetton) 1998-2000 Formula 1 (McLaren): Third driver 2001-05 Formula 1 (McLaren): 17th (one race) 2006-07 Formula 1 (Williams) 2008 Formula 1 (Honda): Reserve driver 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours (Peugeot): 1st, Formula 1 (Brawn GP): Test driver 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours (Peugeot): DNF, Sebring 12 Hours (Peugeot): 1st 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours (Peugeot): 4th, Petit Le Mans (Peugeot): 1st Spa 1,000km (Peugeot): 1st

Nicolas Lapierre Profile

Born 2 April 1984, Thonon-Les-Bains (France) Height 1.70m Weight 69 kg Best achievement Youngest Macao F3 winner (2003)

Career History 1993 Began his career in karts 1997 European Kart Championship, CIK Cadet Class: 6th 2000-01 French Formula Renault 2002 Formula Renault Eurocup (Graff Racing): 3rd 2003 Formula 3 EuroSeries (Signature Plus): 4th Macau Grand Prix: 1st 2004 Formula 3 EuroSeries (Signature Plus): 3rd 2005 GP2 Series (Arden International): 12th 2006 GP2 Series (Arden International): 9th A1 Grand Prix (Team France): 1st 2007 GP2 Series (DAMS): 12th (2 wins) Le Mans 24 Hours(Team ORECA): 9th 2008 Le Mans Series (Team ORECA): 12th 2009 Le Mans Series (Team ORECA): 6th Le Mans 24 Hours (Team ORECA): 5th Asian Le Mans Series (Team ORECA): 3rd 2010 Le Mans Series (Team ORECA): 2nd Le Mans 24 Hours (Team ORECA): DNF 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (Team ORECA) Le Mans 24 Hours (Team ORECA): 5th Sebring 12 Hours (Team ORECA): 1st

Kazuki Nakajima Profile

Born 11 January 1985, Okazaki, Japan Height 1.75m Weight 62kg Best achievement First Japanese F1 driver to score points at Monaco (2008)

Career History 1996 Began his career in karts 1999 Suzuka Kart Championship, ICA class: 1st 2003 Esso Formula Toyota: 1st 2004 Japanese Formula 3 Championship (TOM’S): 5th Macau Grand Prix (TOM’S): 13th 2005 Japanese Formula 3 Championship (TOM’S): 2nd Macau Grand Prix (TOM’S): 5th Super GT (apr): 8th 2006 Formula 3 EuroSeries (Manor): 7th Macau Grand Prix (Manor): DNF 2007 GP2 Series (DAMS): 6th Formula 1 (Williams): 22nd (one race) 2008 Formula 1 (Williams): 15th 2009 Formula 1 (Williams): 20th 2011 Formula Nippon (TOM’S): 2nd Super GT (TOM’S): 8th