Nyck de Vries has secured WEC Hypercar drive with Toyota for 2024, as reigning WRC champion Kalle Rovanpera opts for partial run.
In 2024, we will continue to race in the Hypercar category (LMH class), which is the top class of the WEC, with a two-vehicle team as we aim to win the championship. TGR will enter with the GR010 HYBRID, fitted with RACING HYBRID technology that has been advanced during WEC competition. The team will be based at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe GmbH (TGR-E) in Cologne, Germany.
The driver lineup will include Nyck de Vries as the new driver of car #7. Nyck was a test and reserve driver for the TGR WEC team from 2020-2022. Having continued to gain experience in a variety of categories, Nyck will join us again as an even stronger driver. José María López, who has competed in the WEC for many years with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing since 2017, will switch from the Hypercar class from the 2024 season to compete in the WEC LMGT3 class with Team Akkodis ASP.
This activity is TGR’s support for Team Akkodis ASP as part of customer motorsports to achieve sustainable motorsports. He will be responsible for team and car development and will support young and gentleman drivers. He will make use of the many years of experience he has gained in the Hypercar class and continue to aim to achieve sustainable motorsports as a member of the TGR family. The reserve driver will be Ritomo Miyata, who won both the Japanese Super Formula Championship (SF) and SUPER GT500 class in the 2023 season.
Kamui Kobayashi: “In motorsport, things are constantly evolving and it’s the same with driver line-ups. On car #7, Mike, José and me drove together since 2017, which is a really long time in any category. We enjoyed some amazing moments together, but also some tough times, particularly at Le Mans. I would like to thank José for his massive contribution, as a driver and a team-mate. He will always be a part of our TOYOTA GAZOO Racing family. At the same time, it is exciting to welcome Nyck back to the team as part of the #7 crew. We know from his time as our Test and Reserve Driver, plus his other racing, how quick and consistent he is. Next season again we have a top driver line-up in both cars, and this will be important when we face even more competitors in Hypercar. I am sure we will grow stronger together as a team over the winter, ready for the new challenge.”
Mike Conway: “I am looking forward to the new season, which should be even more intense and exciting. There are mixed emotions to be honest, because I have enjoyed six seasons working with José and we had lots of good times together, lots of wins. We became more than team-mates; we became true friends and that’s something I cherish. But I am happy to welcome Nyck to the #7 car next season and looking forward to driving with him. He’s a top driver and a team player so I am sure we will work well together. I can’t wait to get started.”
Nyck de Vries: “I am super excited to be returning to endurance racing, especially with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. Endurance racing is something that I have always enjoyed and it is a discipline with incredible momentum at the moment. I was with the team in a different role for a few years but never got the chance to race, so it is great that the time has now arrived, and I want to thank the team for their continuous support and faith in me. I am very much looking forward to sharing car #7 with both Mike and Kamui. They are both very talented drivers who achieved a lot, and I am sure we will make a great team.”
Sébastien Buemi: “I am extremely happy to come back to WEC again next season with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. We have been racing together since 2012, which is an incredibly long time for a driver to race with one team. It’s like a family to me and I feel privileged to be part of it. It’s great to again race alongside Ryo and Brendon. We won back-to-back championships together, plus a win and second place at Le Mans, so we have enjoyed some special moments. I hope we can continue to get stronger, and succeed, together. I can’t wait to go to Qatar and get the season started. Bring it on.”
Brendon Hartley: “It’s a great feeling to be continuing with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing going into what should be a really tough, exciting season in Hypercar. I am really proud to be part of this team, and to drive alongside Sébastien and Ryo in the #8 car. We have grown so much together as a driver crew over the past years and enjoyed some incredible moments. Of course, we will give our all to win a hat-trick of World Championships together as well as the big one, Le Mans. With the new competitors coming to WEC next season, the task is harder than ever but we’ll give it our all.”
Ryo Hirakawa: “I am excited to continue the challenge with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in WEC in 2023, and I’m delighted to continue with Sébastien and Brendon in the #8 car. This will be my third season in the team, and my third driving alongside them in the #8, and so far it has been a very special experience. We won the drivers’ championship two years in a row, and won Le Mans in 2022, and I am sure there is more to come. Next season will be even more challenging than ever but I am really looking forward to fighting to defend our title and aim for victory at Le Mans.”
Kazuki Nakajima (Vice Chairman, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe): “As the WEC Challenge Program has been selecting training drivers since last year and planning Miyata’s activities for 2024, I am happy that these opportunities for F2 and ELMS were made possible, and I would like to thank all those involved. In particular, his participation in F2 was made possible by Morizo’s encouragement and support of Hirakawa’s opportunity to become a McLaren reserve driver along with Miyata’s own achievements in 2023.
“This is a great opportunity for Miyata to gain experience in both formula and endurance racing and will open up many possibilities beyond that, depending on how hard he works. I am very happy for what the program will do in 2024, and it makes me brace myself up. We must make this program open up various opportunities. I want to create a system that allows experienced drivers to give feedback to younger drivers, just as José will be driving in WEC GT3. I would also like to make this program a collaboration among various bases to create an environment where not only Japanese drivers but also many other drivers can challenge themselves.”
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is pleased to confirm its star-studded driver line-up for the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season, when it will aim to once more win the manufacturers’, drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles. Kalle Rovanperä this year became the youngest ever winner of back-to-back WRC drivers’ titles, aged 23, and has signed a new multi-year contract with TGR-WRT.
Following his remarkable rise to the very top of the sport, Rovanperä will take part in a selected programme of rallies in 2024 alongside co-driver Jonne Halttunen. This will allow him some time away from the intense demands of competing for world championship titles and to enjoy driving across different disciplines including drifting, further enhancing his skills and experience behind the wheel. Eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier achieved the last of his titles with TGR-WRT in 2020 and ’21 before stepping back from full-time competition.
He remains a key player in the team, having claimed victories in Monte Carlo, Mexico and Kenya during 2023, and will again contest a partial programme next season together with co-driver Vincent Landais. The team is also excited to continue its relationship with Elfyn Evans for further seasons. Since joining TGR-WRT, Evans has established himself as a regular championship contender, finishing runner-up three times in four years – including in 2023, when he scored rally wins in Croatia, Finland and Japan. Looking to build on the progress of this season, he and co-driver Scott Martin will enter 2024 with their sights set on competing for their first world championship titles.
Takamoto Katsuta will also again form part of the team’s line-up and drive a full season in the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID with co-driver Aaron Johnston. A product of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program, Katsuta stepped up to join the team’s main line-up in 2023 and contributed to its manufacturers’ championship success with an excellent podium finish at Rally Finland.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal): “We are very happy to be keeping our winning driver line-up together for the future. It’s great to know that we have such a strong squad of drivers who feel at home in our car and our team and want to continue working with us. Kalle’s programme will be a bit different in 2024 but the important thing for us is that he is a Toyota driver and he wants to stay with the team and keep enjoying his passion for rallying.
“Even though he is young, he has been driving rally cars at a serious level for a long time and he feels a part-campaign would be best for him now so that we can look forward to more full seasons together in the future. It’s also great that Seb continues with us, and it means that together with Kalle, we will have two multiple world champions as strong assets in our defence of the manufacturers’ championship. Elfyn has shown us again this year that he can win rallies and compete for championships, and we know he will give his best efforts in every rally. Taka proved at Rally Finland this year that he can be up there in the fastest rallies and hopefully we can see him as a contender for podiums in almost every rally next season.”
Kalle Rovanperä: “I am really excited to have signed a multi-year contract with TGR-WRT and to continue working with the team. Next year I am only going to be driving some of the events and the biggest reason for this is that I have been driving rally cars for 15 years already, which is quite a long time, and while the last seasons have been amazing of course, they have also been really demanding mentally and physically. So I felt that now would be a good moment to take a year for recharging the batteries, and then come back again full-time to fight for the championship once more with a full attack. I enjoy all kinds of motorsport and I’m looking forward to doing some drifting and maybe some other cool events as well as the rallies which we will be selecting next year.”
Elfyn Evans: “I’m looking forward to heading into what will be my fifth consecutive year with the team. We’ve had some great successes together over the last four years and I’m excited to continue that story with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. I gelled with the team immediately when I joined and it feels very much like home now. The support from everyone to get me feeling comfortable in the GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID has been great, and we’ve continued to make progress this year. I’m keen to build on that and be even better in 2024. We have a lot more to achieve together and I’m excited about the future. As always, the target will be to win, whether that’s in each rally or in the championship.”
Sébastien Ogier: “I am of course really happy to still be with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for next year. The 2023 season has been good for me and more importantly for the team, and managing to clinch all three titles again is great. So I’m looking forward to staying in this environment and to try and continue our success story together. I really like the relationship that I have with the whole team and for me there was never any doubt that I wanted to stay in TGR overalls. I also really enjoy the balance that this kind of partial programme gives me, and next season should be pretty similar in that respect. As long as the success is there for me and the team, I think we should try to carry on in a similar way.”
Takamoto Katsuta: “I’m really excited to start a new season with TGR-WRT next year. I learned a lot this year: there were some rallies that were good for me and some that were not so good, but those have made me stronger and will hopefully help me in the future. Next year will be important to prove what I can do, and I will try to make it the best season of my career so far. A huge thank you to the team and everyone who has been supporting me. I’ve had a very good opportunity to gain step-by-step experience in rallying since joining the TGR WRC Challenge Program in 2015. Now I will try to make the next step to fight for better results and for podiums and victories.”
[Note: The story is as per press release]