Toyota Announce Line-Up for WEC Rookie Test

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Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 on track at Shanghai, WEC 2019
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

Thomas Laurent and Kenta Yamashita have been added to Toyota Gazoo Racing‘s Rookie test line-up that will take place after the FIA World Endurance Championship‘s 8 Hours of Bahrain.

Laurent was signed as the team’s test and reserve driver at the beginning of the 2019/20 season, and is competing in his maiden year of WEC with Signatech Alpine. He is potentially on course to make his LMP1 debut later this season if Sebastien Buemi prioritises FIA Formula-E over WEC in March, as the 1,000 Miles of Sebring clashes with the Seoul E-Prix.

The French driver also has experience with the Toyota machine as he took part in this season’s Prologue in July, sharing duties in the car with the other six full-time Toyota drivers. It has been said by the team that the young Frenchman is still being considered for a place in one of the 2020/21 Hyper Car teams.

Yamashita has also been racing in WEC this year, competing with the #33 High Class Racing against Laurent in LMP2. It too is his debut year in the endurance series, though the Japanese driver has recently claimed his maiden Super GT championship.

The team confirmed in October that FIA Formula 2 Champion and LMP2 Racing Team Nederland pilot Nyck de Vries would be taking part in the test, so the trio will share custody of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid during the test.

“We’re looking forward to seeing Thomas drive the TS050 Hybrid again and it’s always interesting to have such promising young drivers like Kenta and Nyck experience a hybrid LMP1 car for the first time,” Team President Hisatake Murata commented. “The rookie test is a great opportunity for us to give this chance to two drivers who very much deserve an opportunity to test an LMP1 car at this stage in their careers.

“Of course, we know Thomas well and it will be interesting to get his input on how the TS050 Hybrid has evolved since he last drove it at the Prologue.”

All three young drivers will be looking to set a good impression with the Japanese team, hoping to potentially be signed to the Toyota program ahead of the new Hyper Car class that comes into affect next season.

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The Checkered Flag’s correspondent for the FIA World Endurance Championship. Working in motorsport as a hobby and as a professional, Alice is a freelance digital communications manager, video editor and graphic designer at OrbitSphere. She also runs and manages her own YouTube channel - Circuit The World - with videos on gaming, travel, motorsports and reviews.
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