And our final driver line-up for Le Mans is…
It’s déja vu time here at Toyota Racing as we confirm our final driver line-up for the Le Mans 24 Hours – again!
The bad news of Hiroaki Ishiura’s back complaint created a bit of a headache for the team, on top of the huge effort already needed to prepare a replacement monocoque following our testing accident in April.
The work done by TMG’s production department has been heroic and we have produced two new monocoques in record time, but that’s another story.
Today we once again have a complete driver line-up for the Le Mans 24 Hours – not just our race debut with the TS030 HYBRID but also arguably the toughest race in motorsport.
So an experienced, fast and reliable driver like Stéphane Sarrazin is the perfect man to step in at late notice. He also already knows his way around TMG from his time as one of our F1 testers, so he is the ideal fit.
Stéphane’s arrival completes a fascinating – and potentially super-fast – line-up for the #8 Toyota Racing car at Le Mans. With three consecutive pole positions at Le Mans, his speed is never in question while anyone who witnessed Anthony Davidson at La Sarthe in recent years will have no doubt as to his abilities.
Completing the #8 line-up is a rookie driver in Le Mans terms. But Sébastien Buemi needs little introduction; as an F1 newcomer he scored points in his first-ever race and he has established his reputation as a top-level driver over three potential-filled years at that level.
To say we’re excited to see the #8 flat-out around La Sarthe would an understatement!
An interesting sideline to the news of Stéphane’s return to TMG is his brief career as a rally driver. Between his F1 and endurance racing careers, he showed himself to be a mean rally driver, winning the French Championship and posting some impressive results on the world stage.
With TMG already having developed a Yaris R1A rally car, plus a Super 2000 model on the way soon, maybe we have found ourselves a good test driver too…
There are many points to consider when signing a new driver – potential for future rally test drives being relatively low on the list – and one question which needs to be addressed pretty quickly is: what order should we list the drivers?
Our system is pretty easy and follows the Japanese way, which lists the oldest (or most senior, if you prefer a more gentle description!) first. Therefore the driver line-up for car #7 is Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima. For car #8 it is Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi.
Any guesses as to the order come 17 June? Send us your comments below!
Before Le Mans, Stéphane made his Formula 1 debut in 1999 before becoming a test driver. In 2002, he joined Panasonic Toyota F1 Racing in the team’s first season. Between 2004 and 2006, he also raced in the World Rally Championships. In 10 Le Mans starts, Stéphane picked up two 2nd places and one 3rd place overall as well as two 2nd and 3rd places in class between 2001 and 2011.