Yamashita faces uncertainty over 2020 WEC plans

Toyota protege Kenta Yamashita faces a possible scheduling headache that could force him to miss races in the FIA World Endurance Championship or Super Formula later this year.

Yamashita faces uncertainty over 2020 WEC plans
Listen to this article

Yamashita’s 2020 programme in theory comprises a fourth season in Super Formula with Kondo Racing and the remaining three rounds of the 2019/20 WEC season with LMP2 squad High Class Racing at Spa, Le Mans and Bahrain.

While there are no direct clashes between the two series, the proximity of the Spa WEC race on August 15 to the start of the coronavirus-delayed Super Formula campaign at Motegi on August 29-30 could be a problem if Japan’s current rules on quarantine remain in place.        

Currently, all Japanese nationals returning from any of the 120+ countries - including all of Europe - from which foreign travellers are being barred must serve two weeks in quarantine.

#33 High Class Racing Oreca 07 - Anders Fjordbach, Mark Patterson, Kenta Yamashita

#33 High Class Racing Oreca 07 - Anders Fjordbach, Mark Patterson, Kenta Yamashita

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

While Yamashita would normally be expected to prioritise his WEC commitments, which would mean missing the Motegi Super Formula race, the situation is complicated by the 24-year-old being chosen as Heikki Kovalainen’s replacement at the SARD Toyota team for the opening round of the new SUPER GT season at Fuji this month.

Read Also:

With no prospect of the rules that are preventing Kovalainen from travelling from Finland to Japan being relaxed soon, Yamashita could well be called upon to race again at Fuji on August 8-9, a week before the Spa WEC race. The following SUPER GT round takes place just one week after that on August 22-23 at Suzuka.

Should the current quarantine rules remain in place next month, it would also prevent Yamashita from racing at both Spa and Suzuka, and so there is a possibility that Toyota could opt to keep Yamashita in Japan to ensure his availability for SUPER GT.

Asked if he was certain about being at Spa next month, Yamashita told Motorsport.com: “It will be Toyota’s decision. Maybe I’ll do WEC, but I’m not sure.”

It's understood that Toyota is waiting to see whether Japan's quarantine rules will be lifted at the end of the month before taking a final decision on Yamashita's plans.

A Toyota spokesperson said: “We are monitoring the situation closely and are optimistic [that Yamashita won’t have to miss any WEC or Super Formula races].”

Kenta Yamashita, Kondo Racing

Kenta Yamashita, Kondo Racing

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Should Japan’s quarantine rules not change, it would likely prevent Toyota LMP1 drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi taking up their Super Formula seats at TOM’S and KCMG respectively at Motegi, as both would have to prioritise the Spa race.

The second round of the Super Formula season at Okayama could also prove problematic as it follows a week on from the rescheduled Le Mans 24 Hours on September 26-27.

Yamashita’s plans for 2020 have already been up-ended by the global coronavirus pandemic, as he had moved to Germany in January in order to begin integrating himself with Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe’s Cologne base and focus more on studying English.

However, he returned to Japan following the cancellation of the Sebring 1000 Miles WEC race in March and has been in his native country ever since, taking part in that month’s Fuji Super Formula test and the Fuji SUPER GT test in June in place of Kovalainen.

Read Also:

shares
comments
De Vries added to Toyota's LMP1 reserve roster
Previous article

De Vries added to Toyota's LMP1 reserve roster

Next article

Farfus replaces Turner at Aston Martin for final WEC races

Farfus replaces Turner at Aston Martin for final WEC races
Why the WEC should make space for modern garagistes in 2023 Prime

Why the WEC should make space for modern garagistes in 2023

OPINION: There is plenty of excitement over the glut of manufacturers tackling the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship this season. The selection committee is set to face headaches over who it decides to admit and who gets turned away from the 2023 entry list, but history tells us that the smaller entrants have a place

WEC
Jan 9, 2023
Motorsport.com writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Prime

Motorsport.com writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022.

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022
Is Qatar the price motorsport fans have to pay? Prime

Is Qatar the price motorsport fans have to pay?

OPINION: Fresh from hosting a controversial 2022 football World Cup, Qatar has added its name to the 2024 World Endurance Championship calendar. Although questions may be asked about its presence on the calendar, is it simply the price to pay for having a healthy racing championship?

WEC
Dec 21, 2022
How Toyota defeated Alpine for the 2022 WEC title Prime

How Toyota defeated Alpine for the 2022 WEC title

Toyota #8 trio Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa outscored their rivals in the last season before the World Endurance Championship’s top class gets ultra-competitive. Here's how their Hypercar battle with Alpine and the remaining class tussles played out in LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am

WEC
Dec 5, 2022
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Prime

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Prime

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, are arguably the greatest sportscars of all time.

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Prime

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Prime

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its FIA World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022