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Toyota Driver Shakeup Possible Amid Third Entry Talks

Potential change in full-season lineup at Toyota for 2017…

Photo: Toyota Racing

Photo: Toyota Racing

Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon has admitted that a pending decision to field a third car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans will have an effect on its full-season driver lineup for next year.

The Japanese manufacturer has been evaluating a third TS050 Hybrid entry for Le Mans, as well as the six-hour FIA WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps, although Vasselon said a decision will not be made until late in the year or possibly in January.

“For sure it will delay some of our [driver] decisions,” Vasselon told Sportscar365. “But we’re not too worried because we are already in contact with several drivers, and they are very good drivers in the market, who are available.”

A number of drivers have been linked with Toyota next year, the biggest being two-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez, who reportedly impressed in a test with the LMP1 car earlier this year.

The Argentinean, who has switched from Citroen’s WTCC effort to the DS Virgin Formula E program, has been tipped to replace one of Toyota’s existing drivers in its two car full-season lineup.

GP2 ace Alex Lynn, who took part in last year’s Rookie Test and is managed by Toyota ambassador Alex Wurz, Dutchman Giedo Van Der Garde, ex-Rebellion pilot Mathias Beche as well as Toyota Young Driver Ryo Hirakawa have all been mentioned as options for the possible third car.

Vasselon declined to comment about any potential driver shakeups.

“It’s too early to talk about drivers,” he said. “We’re first finishing the season before talking about any tests.”

He did, however, admit that there could be a change in the lineup next year but would not go into specifics. “It could happen,” Vasselon said. “It’s not something we’d rule out.

“But since we still have this uncertainty about the third car, it’s too early to talk about anything, which will have an impact.”

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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