Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Toy­ota will in­crease its par­tic­i­pa­tion in this year’s FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship by ex­pand­ing to run a third car for Le Mans and Spa.

The Ja­panese brand will field a third TS050 Hy­brid in the WEC event in Bel­gium as a warm-up to a three-car at­tack at La Sarthe in June. The ex­pan­sion fol­lows Toy­ota’s loss at Le Mans last sea­son, when its car failed with just a lap to go.

Toy­ota team pres­i­dent Toshio Sato said: “I be­lieve this is an ex­cit­ing time for Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing in en­durance rac­ing. En­ter­ing three cars for Spa and Le Mans rep­re­sents a new chal­lenge for our team. We are work­ing hard to be pre­pared and we are in­spired to win.”

Along­side the third car, three-time World Tour­ing Car cham­pion Jose Maria Lopez has been con­firmed as one of Toy­ota’s full-sea­son WEC en­tries. He will join Mike Con­way and Ka­mui Kobayashi in one car, with 2014 world cham­pi­ons An­thony David­son, Se­bastien Buemi and Kazuki Naka­jima in the sis­ter ma­chine.

Stephane Sar­razin steps back from a full WEC cam­paign, but will be one of the driv­ers for the third car. His team-mates have yet to be an­nounced.

Fol­low­ing Audi’s with­drawal for 2017, just two Porsches, two Toy­otas and a sin­gle pri­va­teer Bykolles make up the top LMP1 cat­e­gory, with Toy­ota’s ex­tra car lim­it­ing the loss of en­tries.

The ef­fect of the new LMP2 reg­u­la­tions has also had an im­pact, with just one of the four man­dated chas­sis sup­pli­ers rep­re­sented on the WEC grid as ORECA dom­i­nates the cat­e­gory.

The class en­try re­mains sta­ble at 10 cars, but they are fielded by just six teams. Re­bel­lion will run two cars af­ter its step down from pri­va­teer P1 com­pe­ti­tion, while both Manor and the Jota Sport-op­er­ated Jackie Chan Rac­ing team also have two cars.

Sig­nat­ech runs two Alpine A470s, but they are es­sen­tially also re­badged ORECAS.

In con­trast the Euro­pean Le Mans Se­ries will fea­ture three dif­fer­ent chas­sis for this year on its en­try list, which con­sists of 13 cars from 13 dif­fer­ent teams.

The WEC en­try is 28 cars, down from the 32 from 2016.

Three TS050S will run in ’17 Adam (left) and Turner The 2014 champs re­turn

Pho­tos: LAT

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