Toyota has confirmed that Nicolas Lapierre will return to its ranks for two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2017, racing in the #9 TS050 Hybrid at Spa and Le Mans.

Lapierre joined Toyota's LMP1 team in 2012, but was dropped halfway through the 2014 campaign over an alleged lack of pace despite being en route to the drivers' title with team-mates Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi.

Lapierre returned to Le Mans the following year with KCMG, leading the team to victory in LMP2, and then enjoyed a dominant charge to the class title with Signatech Alpine last year.

The Frenchman's efforts have done enough to secure him a seat in Toyota's third car for Spa and Le Mans, linking up with Stephane Sarrazin and 2016 Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto, the latter also being announced on Tuesday.

"It's great to be back with Toyota and I would like to thank the team for this opportunity," Lapierre said. "I'm really looking forward to racing an LMP1 car again because the cars have developed a lot since I drove the TS040 Hybrid in 2014.

"The Spa race is coming around very quickly so I am fully focused on preparing myself for the new season. I have stood on the podium before at Le Mans with Toyota so my target is clearly to do that again this year."

Kunimoto added: "This is really a dream for me. I never imagined that one day I could race for a team like Toyota at Le Mans so I am determined to make the most of this opportunity. I enjoyed my first tests with the TS050 Hybrid, which is a really impressive car.

"LMP1 and endurance racing in Europe are new to me so I am working hard to learn as much as I can from the team; I am sure I will learn a lot from Stephane and Nicolas, who are both very experienced and quick."

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