Red Bull test driver Sebastien Buemi will
get the chance to race at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours after finally being confirmed as a member of Toyota Racing's two-car line-up.
The Swiss driver, rumoured to be a part of the squad at the time of the TS030's unveiling a couple of weeks ago, was announced alongside another F1 refugee, Anthony Davidson, and rising Japanese star Hiroaki Ishiura as Toyota confirmed a second entry for the 24 Hours.
The team's full-time entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship is for one car, with an additional TS030 Hybrid now confirmed for the French classis over the weekend of 16-17 June. The driver line-up for the first car has already been confirmed as Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima, while Andrea Caldarelli was named as the team's junior driver at the time of the car's launch.
“This is an exciting driver line-up for our additional car," team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita confirmed, "Anthony, Hiroaki and Sébastien are talented and intelligent drivers who have achieved plenty already in motorsport, so we are very confident they can make a positive contribution to Toyota Racing. "Our drivers are selected on the basis not only of their speed and consistency, but also their ability to work well within a team and it's been great to see the positive attitude all three have already brought to our project. Combined with our regular line-up of Alex, Nicolas and Kazuki, I believe we have a really strong team of drivers who will fly the Toyota Racing flag with pride during the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Buemi, who enjoyed a three-year stint in F1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso before being unceremoniously dumped along with team-mate Jaime Alguersuari at the end of 2011, has shown himself to be an accomplished single-seater racer, but will be making his endurance racing debut at Le Mans alongside his reserve driver role at Red Bull.
“I am really proud to be a Toyota Racing driver at Le Man, as it's a huge event and one of the biggest in motorsport," the Swiss ace admitted, "It's particularly great to be going there as a Toyota driver because my grandfather has been a Toyota dealer for over 40 years so I've basically grown up with the brand.
"It's also exciting to be driving a hybrid car. I think this is the future and it's nice to see Toyota pushing a lot in that direction. I've driven hybrid cars in the past - the first and second generation Prius - but the TS030 Hybrid is something else. I'm looking forward to racing it. LMP1 cars are fast and it's a professional environment, so it is going to be a very positive experience for me.”
Davidson, meanwhile, will dovetail his now commitment with regular commentatary work for Sky Sports
, having become a force in sportscar racing since losing his f1 ride with Super Aguri at the end of 2008. The Briton is already a winner of the Sebring 12 Hours and Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and brings significant recent experience of manufacturer participation at Le Mans.
“I'm really happy to be a part of the Toyota Racing team, and delighted to be returning to Le Mans this year," Davidson noted, "Competing at the 24 Hours is always hugely exciting, but to be joining a team like Toyota Racing and competing with a hybrid powertrain makes this particularly special.
"I've heard a lot about the TS030 Hybrid and the technology behind it, and I'm looking forward to experiencing hybrid power for the first time in my career. I know this is a learning year for the team but I believe Toyota Racing has huge potential, and I hope we can prove that at Le Mans.”