Anthony Davidson says he’s fully committed to working with Toyota in his new reserve and development role despite picking up a LMP2 race drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The 2014 World Champion was dropped from the Japanese manufacturer’s driver lineup for the upcoming ‘Super Season’ following its acquisition of two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso.
Davidson will be on reserve duties throughout the 2018-19 season, while also having signed to race with the DragonSpeed LMP2 squad at the rounds after this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
He contributed to the Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s winter testing regime and turned laps in the recent pre-season Prologue test in Alonso’s absence.
“If any time I’m needed, then Toyota have priority,” said Davidson. “That’s one of the compromises and understandings that both teams have, and I have as well.
“It’s a belt and braces job for Le Mans this year, taking no risks, and I fit into that philosophy.
“I have to be prepared – the team needs me prepared – it just fits their plan for me to be with them right up until crunch-time at Le Mans where they’re leaving no stone un-turned in their bid to win.”
“There’s nothing I can do about it [losing the LMP1 seat], so the next best thing was to get back racing again and therefore the deal with DragonSpeed came up.”
Davidson is listed to share the Elton Julian-run squad’s Oreca 07 Gibson with Roberto Gonzalez and former grand prix racer Pastor Maldonado, starting at the Six Hours of Silverstone in August.
With his Toyota contract running through the duration of the 2018-19 season, an agreement had to be made between Davidson’s LMP1 employer and DragonSpeed before he could embark on a program that would see him share the track (albeit in a different class) with the Toyotas.
Reaching that common ground was important because DragonSpeed is also a rival of Toyota in LMP1 this season with its newly acquired BR Engineering BR1 Gibson.
“After Le Mans, I’m free to go and have a play,” said Davidson.
“I respect that and DragonSpeed also respect that I’m under contract to Toyota, which is my priority, and they have the final say on where I’m placed.
“All the parties had to talk together, they understood it was my desire to race, Elton obviously wanted a good driver in his car after Le Mans and we all came to a nice agreement in the end.”
Davidson says that Toyota’s relationship with DragonSpeed, which has run drivers with links to the LMP1 manufacturer in the past, helped him land the LMP2 role.
DragonSpeed fielded Nicolas Lapierre in the 2017 European Le Mans Series, with the Frenchman also appearing at Le Mans in Toyota’s additional car that year.
The same season, it also ran Ryo Hirakawa in the ELMS behind the wheel of a G-Drive Racing-liveried Oreca 07 that the American squad prepared.
“They all know each other and it works pretty well,” said Davidson.
“I could have gone off to another championship and raced somewhere else, I would’ve had [Toyota’s] blessing easily, but it gets more complex when you’re on the same track as an LMP1 team that you’re contracted to as well.
“To do a deal within WEC would have been very hard with anybody else but Elton. I’m thankful to him for having the patience and understanding, and Toyota for allowing me to [do it].
Davidson Eyeing North American Enduros
In addition to his Toyota testing role and upcoming part-season WEC program, Davidson says he would also consider tackling major North American sports car races, such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Davidson won the latter in 2010 with Peugeot and also claimed pole at Petit Le Mans 2010 and 2011 when both events were part of the American Le Mans Series.
His first and only appearance at Daytona came in 2013, when he drove an 8Star Motorsports Corvette DP with Stephane Sarrazin, Pedro Lamy, Nicolas Minassian and Enzo Potolicchio.
“I’d love to go back and do some of the big IMSA races,” said Davidson.
“It draws you back, there’s something about those big American races that’s fun.
“I’ve only experienced Daytona once so I’d love to give that another go and try to win it. There’s a lot of potential racing out there, it’s just finding the right time and place.”
John Dagys contributed to this report