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Unchanged Driver Lineup for Toyota in 2021

Toyota retains its 2019-20 WEC crews into first season with new Le Mans Hypercar…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota has confirmed that it will contest the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship season with an unchanged six-man driver lineup.

The Japanese manufacturer has opted for stability in its driving crew for its first year running the new Toyota GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercar, by maintaining the two crews that drove the outgoing Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 during the 2019-20 season.

Reigning FIA World Endurance champions Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi will share the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota.

The No. 8 car will be piloted by last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley.

Nyck de Vries will continue to work with Toyota as its test and reserve driver, while the Dutchman has already turned laps in the GR010 Hybrid during pre-season testing.

Toyota is targeting its third straight WEC title after successfully defending its 2018-19 crown during the most recent campaign which it contested against Rebellion Racing.

Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi clinched the drivers’ world title for the first time by taking four victories in a season defined by the implementation of success handicaps.

“To start the new season as World Champion is cool; it gives all three of us on [car] No. 7 a nice boost,” said Conway.

“But it’s one thing to win a title and another to retain it. The goal is to win the championship again and also get the big one; Le Mans.”

This year the new Hypercar class, which is open to LMH cars like the Toyota and grandfathered LMP1s, will be governed by a balance of performance system.

Nakajima, who along with Buemi is targeting the capture of a fourth consecutive Le Mans victory, is optimistic of a tight battle for wins in the WEC’s top class throughout 2021.

“I think the racing will be closer than ever this season; everyone in the Le Mans Hypercar class will be pushing to win which is good for drivers and fans,” he said.

“We need a different approach but the goal won’t change and the target for this season is always clear.

“We want to win Le Mans for a fourth time for Toyota Gazoo Racing, and the world championship.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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