Former Toyota Racing Team President Yoshiaki Kinoshita has been awarded the prestigious Spirit of Le Mans Award by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.
The ACO announced the award on Sunday, adding Kinoshita san to a list of endurance racing’s elite which includes Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Gérard Larousse and Henri Pescarolo. It has been awarded since 2001 to participants who have epitomized the spirit of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Kinoshita’s association with Le Mans dates back to the 1990s when he was an engineer on the TS010. More recently, he was a driving force behind Toyota’s return to Le Mans in 2012, when the Japanese manufacturer made its World Endurance Championship debut at La Sarthe that year.
His time as Team President culminated in Toyota winning the 2014 manufacturers’ World Championship alongside the drivers’ crown won by Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi. In April this year he began a new assignment at Toyota Technocraft Co. Ltd. in Japan.
He was succeeded as Team President by Toshio Sato who joined the whole team in saluting Kinoshita san’s immense contribution to Toyota’s motorsport heritage and the spirit of Le Mans.
“This team would not be where we are today – preparing for the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours as reigning World Champions – without Kinoshita san’s efforts,” Sato said.
“I have always been impressed by his passion for endurance racing, and particularly Le Mans; he is a true racer.
“This award is very well deserved and I thank the ACO for honoring Kinoshita san in this way. On behalf of everyone in the team I offer our sincere congratulations to him and we look forward to seeing him here in Le Mans during race week.”