Newly-crowned Super GT series champion Kenta Yamashita and Toyota test and reserve driver Thomas Laurent will join reigning F2 champion Nyck de Vries in testing Toyota’s TS050 HYBRID at the FIA WEC Bahrain Rookie Test on December 15.
Hisatake Murata, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Team President says everyone in the program is looking forward to seeing how all three drivers perform at the wheel of a TS050 HYBRID, before it is retired from competition at the end of the current season.
“We are looking forward to seeing Thomas drive the TS050 HYBRID again and it’s always interesting to have such promising young drivers like Kenta and Nyck experience a hybrid LMP1 car for the first time,” he said.
“The rookie test is a great opportunity for us to give this chance to two drivers who very much deserve an opportunity to test an LMP1 car at this stage in their careers. Of course, we know Thomas well and it will be interesting to get his input on how the TS050 HYBRID has evolved since he last drove it at the Prologue.”
For Laurent, this is another confirmed test in the car after he made a public appearance in the TS050 at the pre-season Prologue in Barcelona earlier this year. Yamashita and de Vries, meanwhile, will get their first taste of an LMP1 car during this test; both will visit Toyota’s Cologne factory for a seat fitting and simulator session ahead of the test.
“I’m delighted to have been selected by Toyota Gazoo Racing to test its TS050 HYBRID during its final season of competition. It’s a global legend in terms of its performance and achievements,” said Yamashita, who has been racing with High Class Racing in the WEC’s LMP2 class this season. Last weekend at the WEC meeting in Shanghai he was pictured with the TS050 HYBRID in the TGR garage ahead of this news.
“After three FIA WEC races with High Class Racing this year I have learned a lot about the car and the challenge of WEC. This test in Bahrain will help me develop my skills and gain valuable experience.”
Nikolaj Johansen, a senior representative from the Danish-based High Class team, added: “All of us at High Class Racing are proud to have been a part of Kenta’s introduction to prototype racing this season and are thrilled that he has been handed the opportunity to test one of the most significant race cars in the modern era.
“He has made great strides since he first drove with us at the pre-season Prologue test and we look forward to seeing what he can produce during the remaining rounds of the championship.”