The Toyota LMP1 team has announced reigning Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries as its new test and reserve driver for the FIA World Endurance Championship.
De Vries will join Kenta Yamashita on the Cologne outfit’s roster of official reserves for the remaining rounds of the 2019/20 WEC season and for 2021, replacing Thomas Laurent.
The 25-year-old Dutchman had been on Toyota’s radar since his Bahrain rookie test in December last year, where he impressed during his 43 laps in the team’s Le Mans 24 Hours-winning TS050 Hybrid.
“I am really excited to join Toyota Gazoo Racing and work with the team again,” said De Vries, who will join Toyota for a private test this week at Paul Ricard.
“It’s an honour to be selected as test and reserve driver so I would like to thank the team for this opportunity.
"Driving the TS050 Hybrid in Bahrain was a fantastic experience. At the time, I thought it could have been a one-off opportunity so it’s great to know I will be driving the car again, and even more exciting to look ahead to later this year when we start testing the new LMH car."
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Thomas Laurent, Nyck De Vries
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
De Vries won the 2019 F2 title with ART Grand Prix, but saw his path to Formula 1 blocked. Instead he joined Stoffel Vandoorne at the Mercedes Formula E team, and sits 13th in the standings ahead of the championship’s final six Berlin races.
He dovetailed his F2 and FE duties with several appearances for Dutch LMP2 squad Racing Team Nederland in the WEC, including a Le Mans debut in 2019.
For the remainder of this year, he will combine the remaining rounds of the 2019/20 FE and WEC seasons with a full European Le Mans Series campaign for G-Drive Racing.
The arrival of De Vries means there is no more room at Toyota for Laurent, who joined the squad ahead of the 2019/20 WEC season in a reserve role, stepping down from his Rebellion LMP1 drive and joining the Signatech Alpine LMP2 team.
Motorsport.com understands it is likely Toyota’s current line-up of six race drivers will remain unchanged for the 2021 WEC season.
With three rounds to go, including September's Le Mans 24 Hours, Toyota's #7 crew of Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway lead the championship, closely followed by Brendon Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi in the sister #8 car.
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