Ferrari has confirmed that Kamui Kobayashi will take part in the World Endurance Championship behind the wheel of an AF Corse-run 458 Italia.
Since the Japanese driver lost his Sauber F1 seat at the end of last season, rumours linking him to both a switch to the WEC and the AF Corse team had been circulating, but until today, nothing had been made official.
“I am pleased to be able to now announce my new role,” enthused Kobayashi, who becomes the first Asian driver to be part of Ferrari's motorsport commitments. “It's an honour for me to become part of the Ferrari family.”
Despite having never competed in endurance racing before, Kobayashi has high hopes for his first year in the series.
“It will be the first time that I compete in endurance races in a championship featuring GT cars. I can't wait to start working with AF Corse and I really hope I can aim for the title, along with my team-mates,” he confirmed.
“I will work hard and give my all in this new chapter in my career, knowing I can count on the support of all my fans.”
He also described his association with the Italian outfit as a 'new adventure' and dedicated the news to the victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster that took place two years ago.
“I would like to thank Ferrari for this opportunity and, finally, would like to dedicate this season's new adventure to everyone in Japan, who on this very day, commemorate the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit our country,” he stated.
The WEC season opener takes place on April 16 with the Six Hours of Silverstone, where Kobayashi will team up with Gianmaria Bruni and Olivier Beretta. The last remaining seat at AF Corse, whilst not yet confirmed, is widely expected to go to Giancarlo Fisichella who has raced for the team since 2010.
by George East