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Toyota to Return With Unchanged Driver Lineup

All six Toyota Gazoo Racing drivers return to squad for 2023 FIA WEC season…

Photo: Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship with an unchanged driver lineup, including Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, who are set to defend the Hypercar world drivers’ championship.

Confirmed on Friday, all six of the Japanese manufacturer’s drivers will be back in the pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids, amid the arrival of new manufacturers to the top-class prototype ranks.

Buemi, Hartley and Hirakawa, who also won this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and 6 Hours of Fuji, will continue to drive the No. 8 Toyota, with Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and team principal Kamui Kobayashi again aboard the No. 7 entry.

“We achieved all our targets this year, winning Le Mans, Fuji and the World Championships, thanks to the big support from Toyota and our partners. But we start again in 2023 with even stronger competition, so we need to improve ourselves, making our team and car even stronger,” said Kobayashi.

“The drivers are an important part of our team and I am happy to drive alongside Mike, Jose, Seb, Brendon and Ryo again in 2023.

“We have a strong team spirit throughout the whole team, particularly among the drivers, and we race together as one family.

“This is a big strength for our team and we need to trust and support each other next season, to be as strong as possible against the big competition in Hypercar.

“We are all looking forward to racing against so many manufacturers who have won Le Mans in the past.

“Winning Le Mans in its centenary year is a big target for everyone, so of course it will be difficult and our competition will be pushing extremely hard. This big fight is what we all want in motorsport and I think it will be really exciting for the fans.”

Toyota will face off with an updated version of its LMH car against factory LMDh entries from Porsche and Cadillac, as well as Ferrari’s all-new, four-wheel-drive 499P LMH prototype.

Buemi and Hartley both became three-time overall WEC champions this year and are hoping to continue the form in 2023.

“It’s hard to believe that this will be my 11th season with the team in WEC; we have experienced so much together and it has become like a family,” said Buemi.

“We need to use all that experience, and everything we have learned over the years, to be ready for the fight next season.”

Hartley added: “The 2023 season looks like being an incredible one for endurance racing and our job certainly doesn’t get any easier. The fight between the manufacturers will be intense, and we need to be well prepared, with a fast and reliable car; there will be no room for error.”

Hirakawa, meanwhile, will return for his second WEC season after a standout rookie performance in 2022.

“It still hasn’t sunk in that I will start the season as reigning Le Mans winner and a World Champion, but of course the target is to defend those titles,” the Japanese driver said.

“Thank you to the team, to Toyota and all our partners for giving me this opportunity and supporting us to be part of a special season in 2023.

“We enjoyed the moment in Bahrain, but already the whole team is focused on preparing and improving for next season.”

Toyota has not yet announced its test and reserve driver for next year, with technical director Pascal Vasselon admitting in Bahrain that it will need to replace the Formula 1-bound Nyck de Vries, who has served in that role in recent seasons.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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