Toyota moves Lopez to third car for Le Mans

Three-time World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez has been moved to Toyota's third car for the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.

Toyota moves Lopez to third car for Le Mans
Jose Maria Lopez, Mike Conway, Toyota Gazoo Racing
#9 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Stéphane Sarrazin, Yuji Kunimoto, Nicolas Lapierre
#9 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Stéphane Sarrazin, Yuji Kunimoto, Nicolas Lapierre
Stéphane Sarrazin, Yuji Kunimoto, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Jose Maria Lopez, Toyota Gazoo Racing
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

The Le Mans rookie has swapped cars with Stephane Sarrazin after completing only a handful of racing laps in the opening two rounds in his maiden season in the World Endurance Championship.

He crashed early in his opening stint at the Silverstone opener in April and was ruled out of the Spa WEC round earlier this month by the resulting injuries.

Lopez will now drive the #9 Toyota TS050 HYBRID with Nicolas Lapierre and Yuji Kunimoto in the WEC blue riband event on June 17/18, while Sarrazin renews the partnership with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway that yielded second at Le Mans last year in the #7 entry.

Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Toshio Sato said: “Jose Maria is in the unfortunate position of having completed very few racing laps this year in WEC, so we all felt it was appropriate to adjust the driver line-up.

"I am very confident that Stephane will fit well into a #7 line-up, which can fight for the win.

"Jose María, like Yuji, will learn a lot at Le Mans this year, familiarising himself with the track and the event in general, and this is an important step for the future as well.”

Lopez crashed at Copse Corner on his fourth racing lap at Silverstone in a car that had sustained a broken rear anti-roll bar earlier in the race.

He damaged two vertebrae in the accident and was ruled out of the race at Spa on the eve of the event, though subsequently returned to the cockpit in last weekend's Monaco Formula E event with DS Virgin Racing.

The line-up of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 car, which has won the first two WEC rounds this year, is unaffected by the changes.

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