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Kunimoto Excited For Spa Debut, Wants Full-Season Toyota Drive

Yuji Kunimoto sets sights on more drives with Toyota beyond Spa, LM24…

Photo: WEC/Adrenal Media

Photo: WEC/Adrenal Media

Yuji Kunimoto is relishing his maiden outing in the FIA World Endurance Championship on Saturday at Spa with Toyota, but already has designs on a full-season drive with the Japanese manufacturer in the future.

Kunimoto, 26, worked his way up the Japanese single-seater ladder before winning its top championship, Super Formula, last year in one of the most competitive fields in global motorsport that featured three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer and McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

Toyota picked Kunimoto up to join its third car for the Spa WEC round and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he has done little to hide his excitement about the opportunity so far this weekend.

“This is my goal, to drive for this team, I’m happy to join this team. I’m looking forward to racing at Spa and Le Mans,” Kunimoto told Sportscar365.

“The car is very fast and the power is 1000 BHP. This is first time for me, so excellent engine power. I like it.”

Kunimoto has raced at classic Japanese circuits such as Suzuka and Fuji Speedway in the past, but Saturday will mark his first outing at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Learning how to tame one of Europe’s most iconic tracks is just one of the many challenges he faces on debut.

“It’s my first time driving this track. I like it, especially Eau Rouge, it’s fantastic and fast,” Kunimoto said.

“This weekend is first time racing in this car so I have to get experience with traffic, and the weather. Also tire management. Tire degradation is little, I think, so I have confidence to race.

“Everything is new for me, so I want to get experience.”

While Kunimoto is only set to feature at Spa and Le Mans this year when Toyota fields its third TS050 Hybrid, he has clear ambitions about a full-season drive in the future.

“I hope so,” Kunimoto said when asked if he would get more opportunities with Toyota in the future.

“I want to join all season, this team, because this is my dream, racing in a world championship, this is a world championship. Of course I want to join here.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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