Three-time World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez will move into the World Endurance Championship for the 2017 season after penning a deal with the Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 team.
The Argentinian driver, who dominated the WTCC between 2014 and 2016 with Citroen, is signed up for a full season in the Formula E Championship with DS Racing but will supplement his year by competing in WEC and making his Le Mans 24 Hours debut.
Lopez will be paired with Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the revised Toyota line-up, with Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson unchanged in the sister car.
“It's great to be part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing,” Lopez remarked. “This is a dream come true for me and I can't wait to get to the first race. Mike and Kamui are both great team-mates; I will learn plenty from them I am sure. Driving an LMP1 car is very different compared to WTCC cars but I am enjoying this challenge.
“The power and grip of the TS050 HYBRID is incredible and TOYOTA's hybrid technology is impressive. I am looking forward to my first experience of WEC and particularly Le Mans which is a very special race.”
Making way for Lopez in the Toyota line-up will be Stephane Sarrazin, though the Frenchman will be back in the as-yet-to-be-revealed 2017 specification TS050 Hybrid for Spa and Le Mans after Toyota confirmed it will expand to a third car for the blue riband events. His team-mates for those races are yet to be decided.
The confirmation comes as the ACO gears up to announce the team entries for the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours race, which will take place without Audi for the first time 18 years. Only Toyota and Porsche will compete for LMP1 honours.