Toyota and its Samurai

While Porsche and Nissan have already revealed their LMP1models ahead of the 2015 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Toyota guys will make us wait until the Prologue test at Paul Ricard to see the 2015 version of the TS040 Hybrid. But, while the new model remains in total obscurity, Toyota already revealed who will be the guys to drive the Japanese machine.

A press conference was called last week at Tokyo, Japan, not only to announce the FIA WEC lineups for 2015, but as well to announce the return of Toyota to the World Rally Championship, as they the new Yaris model will face the competition of Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Citroën from 2017 onwards.

To public relief, it was confirmed that the advent of Toyota’s WRC program won’t affect its sportscar operations, not repeating the scenario seen in the early 2000s, where the TS020(GT-One) Le Mans program was closed in favor of their Formula 1 plans.

There are no much change in the Toyota roster, as the drivers that competed in 2014 will be on their seats, except for Nicolas Lapierre, who ran until the Lone Star Le Mans event in 2014, and then not competing anymore in the FIA WEC, claiming that personal reasons sidelined him.The former No. 8 car will now carry the No. 1, and the World Champion duo of Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson will have Kazuki Nakajima alongside them. The former No. 7 car will carry the No. 2, and Alex Wurz and Stephanne Sarrazin will have former IndyCar driver and Toyota test driver Mike Conway alongside them.

Conway steps into full time driving after a year as Toyota’s test driver, eventually doing some competitive driving replacing Kazuki Nakajima when the Japanese driver had clashes between FIA WEC and the Super GT and Super Formula. Conway even managed to get an overall win at the 6 Hours of Bahrain last year, when the other Toyota crew claimed the driver’s title.

And while the presentation occurred, at Motorland Aragon, former F1 drivers Jean-Eric Vergné and Kamui Kobayashi, alongside Rebellion Racing driver Mathias Beche, were testing the new TS040 Hybrid with No. 2 car drivers. There’s no information however, if these tests will point to their test driver or to a third entry at Le Mans, which was initially ruled out by Toyota due to budget restrictions.