Toyota Gazoo Racing’s full-season driver lineup will not feature any ex-Audi LMP1 pilots, according to Pascal Vasselon, although admitting they could find a place for one or more in its potential third entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
While an announcement on its lineup is not due until January, Vasselon said they’ve “progressively” finalized the six drivers that will be in the pair of season-long Toyota TS050 Hybrids next year, prior to Audi’s withdrawal announcement.
“Our drivers for the two full-season cars are settled,” Vasselon told Sportscar365. “But we still have some positions open if we have a third car.”
At least one change is expected within the Japanese manufacturer’s lineup, with three-time WTCC champion Jose-Maria Lopez linked to a full-season seat, rumored to be replacing Stephane Sarrazin, although Vasselon would not comment on any potential driver changes.
However, he revealed that there would still be space in its proposed third entry for Le Mans, and potentially the first two FIA World Endurance Championship races of the season, should an expanded effort get the green light.
A decision on Toyota’s possible third car will come next month.
“It’s never really an issue to find competitive drivers,” Vasselon said. “I’m sad for them as there are many, many good drivers [at Audi]. Now we have an additional six drivers on the market.”
Porsche, meanwhile, is likely to remain with existing drivers within the company, with both 2015 Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber remaining “quite high up” on the list of replacements for the retiring Mark Webber, according to LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl.
“We said we’d take our time; there’s no rush,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ll analyze the season in December and then make our decisions on how we go ahead.”
The newly crowned 2016 World Champions could also have further changes to its lineup, with both Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb rumored to be under evaluation, despite being on the brink of the Drivers’ World Championship with Neel Jani.
Porsche typically announces its driver lineup during its “Night of Champions” awards ceremony, which is will be held this year on Dec. 3.