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Lapierre Set for Return to Toyota; Dumas in at Signatech Alpine

Nico Lapierre poised to rejoin Toyota for 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Nico Lapierre is poised for a return to Toyota in the manufacturer’s third LMP1 entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Romain Dumas joining Signatech Alpine as the Frenchman’s replacement for two FIA World Endurance Championship races. (En Français)

French publication Auto Hebdo reports that Lapierre will join Stephane Sarrazin and a still to-be-announced driver in the third Toyota TS050 Hybrid for the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.

While Toyota Gazoo Racing has yet to officially confirm the deal, it would mark Lapierre’s return to the Japanese manufacturer after being let go by the team in 2014 due to an accident-filled first half of the season.

He remained under contract with Toyota in 2015, although did not take part in any races in the LMP1 contender.

Dumas, meanwhile, would replace Lapierre in Signatech Alpine’s LMP2 lineup for the two races, likely joining 2016 LMP2 World Champion Gustavo Menezes, who has been upgraded from Silver to Gold driver rating, and new recruit Matt Rao.

Both Menezes and Rao have also yet to officially be confirmed in the team’s Alpine A470 Gibson, although an announcement is expected this week.

The identity of Toyota’s final driver for its third car, meanwhile, is still unknown, although Toyota Young Driver Ryo Hirakawa, who starred in his rookie season of LMP2 with Thiriet by TDS Racing last year, has been linked to the seat.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Alric8

    March 20, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    A lot of sources in Japan are saying that Hirakawa being the third driver is all but confirmed.

  2. Luc

    March 20, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    That’s surprising, cool but also damaging for his LMP2 championship prospects. Always wondered what happened for him to be kicked out of Toyota.

    • seth

      March 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Crashing twice a couple years ago? I recall a spin in Austin

      • Gazooed

        March 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm

        That’s right, also in Le Mans in 2014 where Toyota should have won if he didn’t spin the car that resulted in a 30-minute pits stop to fix the damage. It came back into the race but was a least 7 laps down from the leader. Toyota chances were dashed when the other leading car died due to electrical fault after 13 hours. Austin was the final straw where he spun out o control into the gravel while in the lead (also resulted in lengthy fix in the pit stop), handed the win to Audi.

        One would hope he improved enough to race in the 3rd car.

    • Fabio

      March 21, 2017 at 10:19 am

      I remember Toyota alleging “personal problems”, which was odd since they were leading the standings. He would’ve been champion in 14 with Seb and Ant.

      • Luc

        March 21, 2017 at 11:50 am

        That’s what I was referring too, I was puzzled about it. Toyota wasn’t very clear. Good for him to be back.

  3. Michael Sørensen

    March 21, 2017 at 4:38 am

    He looked up from the podium to the Toyota hospitality box when he was on the podium for winning p2 for KCMG. He looked rather pleased

  4. Fabio

    March 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I hope to see Kunimoto in that 3rd car as well. He did brilliantly in Super Formula last year.

  5. av

    March 22, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    It would be nice if kunimoto turns out to be good.

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