KUNIMOTO AND LAPIERRE COMPLETE TOYOTA GAZOO RACING DRIVER LINE-UP FOR THE 2017 WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Toyota Gazoo Racing have confirmed their 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship driver line-up with Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre set to join the team for the races at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.

They will complete the crew of the No9 TS050 Hybrid alongside lead driver Stéphane Sarrazin for the second and third rounds of the season.

Kunimoto has a wealth of endurance racing experience from eight seasons in Super GT in Japan. He made headlines last year by beating several world-renowned drivers to claim the Super Formula championship, the top tier of Japanese single-seater racing. This year he will defend his Super Formula title in addition to contesting another Super GT campaign.

Frenchman Lapierre is making a return to Toyota Gazoo Racing, having previously raced with the team from 2012 to 2014. During that time he helped Toyota achieve its first WEC race victories. Since then he has established himself as a leading driver in the LMP2 WEC category, twice taking class wins at Le Mans and winning the drivers’ title in 2016.

Today’s announcement follows Toyota Gazoo Racing’s confirmation in January that the No7 car will be driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, with Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima competing in the No8 Toyota.

Toshio Sato, Team President, said: ““I am very pleased to welcome Nicolas and Yuji into our driver line-up for the races at Spa and Le Mans. I am confident that, together with a driver of Stéphane’s abilities, we have a strong line-up in the No9 car.

“We know Nicolas well and we have maintained a positive relationship with him. He is a very quick driver who understands what it takes to succeed at Le Mans so I am sure he will fit into the team quickly and easily. Yuji is a promising driver who has shown his speed and determination in Japanese racing. In testing he has been consistently fast, as well as a team player, so I am sure he will adapt to the demands of WEC.”

 

Yuji Kunimoto Profile
Born                           12 September 1990, Yokohama, Japan
Height                         1.68m
Weight                        62kg

Career History

2008 Formula Challenge Japan: 1st (8 wins)
  Formula BMW Pacific (ART): 16th
2009 Super GT, GT300 class (apr): 10th
  Japanese Formula Three (TOM’S): 3rd (4 wins)
2010 Super GT, GT300 class (apr): 5th (1 win)
  Japanese Formula Three (TOM’S): 1st (10 wins)
2011 Super GT, GT300 class (apr): 7th
  Formula Nippon (INGING): 10th
2012 Super GT (Kraft): 13th
  Formula Nippon (INGING): 13th
2013 Super GT (LeMans): 5th (1 win)
  Super Formula (INGING): 10th
2014 Super GT (LeMans): 7th
  Super Formula (INGING): 7th
2015 Super GT (LeMans): 9th
  Super Formula (INGING): 9th
2016 Super GT (Bandoh): 4th (1 win)
  Super Formula (INGING): 1st (2 wins)

 

Nicolas Lapierre Profile
 
Born                           2 April 1984, Thonon-Les-Bains (France)
Lives                           Geneva (Switzerland)
Height                         170 cm
Weight                        69 kg
 

Career History

1993 Began career in karts
1997 European Kart Championship, CIK Cadet Class: 6th
2000 French Formula Renault
2001 French Formula Renault: 8th (4th in Junior class)
2002 Formula Renault Eurocup (Graff Racing): 3rd
2003 Formula 3 EuroSeries (Signature Plus): 4th
  Macau Grand Prix: 1st
2004 Formula 3 EuroSeries (Signature Plus): 3rd (3 wins)
2005 GP2 Series (Arden International): 12th
2006 GP2 Series (Arden International): 9th
  A1 Grand Prix (Team France): 1st (6 wins)
2007 GP2 Series (DAMS): 12th (2 wins)
  Le Mans 24 Hours (ORECA): 9th
2008 Le Mans Series (ORECA): 12th
2009 Le Mans Series (ORECA): 6th (1 win)
  Le Mans 24 Hours (ORECA): 5th
  Asian Le Mans Series (ORECA): 3rd
2010 Le Mans Series (Team ORECA): 2nd (1 win)
  Le Mans 24 Hours (ORECA): DNF
2011 Le Mans Series / Inter. Le Mans Cup (ORECA): 1 win
  Le Mans 24 Hours (ORECA): 5th
2012 Le Mans 24 Hours (TOYOTA Racing): DNF
  World Endurance Championship (TOYOTA Racing): 3rd (3 wins)
2013 Le Mans 24 Hours (TOYOTA Racing): 4th
  World Endurance Championship (TOYOTA Racing): 4th (1 win)
2014 Le Mans 24 Hours (TOYOTA Racing): 3rd
  World Endurance Championship (TOYOTA Racing): 6th (2 wins)
2015 Le Mans 24 Hours (KCMG): 9th (1st in LMP2)
  World Endurance Championship (KCMG): 5th in LMP2 (1 win)
2016 Le Mans 24 Hours (Signatech Alpine): 5th (1st in LMP2)
  World Endurance Championship (Signatech Alpine): 1st (4 wins)

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