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Lopez Has “Long Term” Contract with Toyota

Jose Maria Lopez has “long-term” contract with Toyota, although schedule uncertainty…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Jose Maria Lopez says he expects to return to Toyota Gazoo Racing this year although admits that he’s “waiting on the final announcement” on his exact driving commitments for the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

The three-time WTCC champion had a turbulent rookie year in LMP1 competition, showing impressive pace but suffering multiple crashes, including a back-breaking accident in the season-opener at Silverstone that forced him to miss Spa and be moved to the team’s third Toyota TS050 Hybrid for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Despite reports of Fernando Alonso’s likely deal with the Japanese manufacturer for Le Mans, and potentially additional WEC races, Lopez remains confident he will get a chance to race, although the scale of his ‘Super Season’ program remains unclear.

Toyota has already made it clear it will not again enter a third car for Le Mans, which would force one of its existing drivers out, at least for the races Alonso would take part in.

“I’m waiting for the final announcement of the lineup,” Lopez told Sportscar365. “I have a long-term contract with them… [but] things can change really quick.

“There’s a few rumors that Fernando could come. There’s a few things we don’t know.

“But in the end, I love the series, I love driving LMP1 and I love to be a part of the Toyota [lineup] as well. I’m really looking forward to starting the season.”

Lopez said he hopes to build on from what he admitted was a “really tough” championship to enter last year.

His highlight of the season came with the pole-winning lap at the Nürburgring, where he scored his first of only two podium finishes in the year.

“I made mistakes for sure. I learned from them; it was my rookie season.” Lopez said. “I never [even] drove a LMP2 car before and never drove an endurance race before.

“I had to get used to it in a quick way because I had teammates that were really quick.

“But I felt really confident at the end of the season. The pace was there, it’s just trying to get a little better on traffic.

“[Next year] is a very important year for us. It’s the Super Season, there’s regulation changes, we have a good opportunity to try to win Le Mans this year. I think it’s going to be tough as always.

“We haven’t started testing yet, so we’re still a long way to the first race so we need to make good preparation to arrive as competitive as we can at Spa.”

WEC the “Main Program” for 2018

Lopez said his planned return to Toyota will take priority over any other racing commitments this year, including his new deal with Dragon Racing in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

The Argentinean has filled the seat vacated by Neel Jani at the Jay Penske-owned team, after being let go by DS Virgin Racing last year.

“[The WEC] is my main program at the moment,” Lopez said. “The important thing is that I don’t have any clashes, so I can commit to both series. It works properly because last year we had a few clashes.

“It was one of the things that compromised my seat in Formula E last year.”

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 Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. JaymondoGB

    January 15, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    I would leave him on the bench if they can afford too.

    • TF110

      January 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Why? Conway had issues in his first season,he’s still there. Nakajima had issues in his first season, he’s still there. Lapierre crashed their car numerous times and at LM but still had another chance. No reason to dump him when he was fastest in the #9 at Le Mans. Especially not for untested Alonso. He’s a pro too but still a wec rookie just like Pechito was last year.

      • David

        January 26, 2018 at 6:05 am

        I think Alonso’s performance in the Rolex 24 will have a big day in what Toyota chooses to do. His driving thus far is impressive, but we will see if he copes well with a 24 hour race.

  2. Milanello

    January 15, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Toyota should replace Anthony davidson for fernando alonso. Davidson didn’t had te pace in several raceses. Lopez Just needed time to addept. Look at kobayashi the year before.

  3. Joe don Goofy

    January 15, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    I think Pechito should be a cab driver with his moms car, hopefully he won’t wreck that. Maybe even working in a donut shop or grocery store.

  4. sukmykok

    January 15, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Full of b*tthurt id*ots here

    • Spencer Maclean

      January 15, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      You’re butt hurt that no girl will suck yours.

      • sukmykok

        January 16, 2018 at 10:00 am

        You dont even have one.. KYS

        • Spencer Maclean

          January 16, 2018 at 10:29 am

          How nice of you, dad and sister is the best you get? That doesn’t count, sorry.

  5. Wecfan1982

    January 16, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Pechito has the pace, he should get a chance as a full time driver, he will improve

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