-1998 Toyota Le Mans (photo credit Toyota)
The eyes of the sports car racing world focused on Le Mans France today where the ACO announced entrants for the WEC 2017 season and Le Mans race.
Among the headlines coming from the announcements was Toyota Gazoo running a third car at both Spa and Le Mans this season. The lead driver in the third car will be Stephan Sarrazin.
This marks the first time Toyota will bring three cars to Le Mans since the 1999 race where a late puncture thwarted the #3 Toyota’s charge in the closing stages of the race.
Toyota hopes to remedy the heartbreak suffered in the 2016 race where the win was snatched away by Porsche due to a failure in the final minutes.
In addition to the third car announcement for Toyota, another welcome addition to the 2017 grid is former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica serving as the primary driver for the ByKOLLES team. This marks the highest level of competition for Kubica since his arm injury suffered during a rally event.
In total, 15 prototypes are set to compete full season in WEC with the number swelling to 31 on the Le Mans grid.
Prototype entries for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans are listed below;
Timo Bernhard GER Porsche 919 Hybrid *
Neel Jani GER Porsche 919 Hybrid *
Sebastien Buemi JPN Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid *
Mike Conway JPN Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid *
Stephane Sarrazin JPN Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid
Robert Kubica AUT ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO *
Nelson Piquet Jr SUI Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson *
Nicholas Prost SUI Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson *
Tor Graves CHN CEFC Manor TRS Oreca 07 Gibson *
Roberto Gonzalez CHN CEFC Manor TRS Oreca 07 Gibson *
Roman Rusinov RUS G-Drive Oreca 07 Gibson *
Francois Perrodo FRA TDS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson *
Stephane Richelmi FRA Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 Gibson *
Nicholas Lapierre FRA Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 Gibson *
David Cheng CHN Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson *
Ho-Pin Tung CHN Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson *
Patrice Lafargue FRA IDEC Sport Ligier JSP217 Gibson
Memo Rojas RUS G-Drive Oreca 07 Gibson
Fabien Barthez FRA Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JSP217 Gibson
Mikhail Aleshin RUS SMP Racing Dallara P217 Gibson
Jan Lammers NED Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217 Gibson
William Owen USA United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson
Chris Hoy PHI Eurasia Ligier JSP217 Gibson
Nigel Moore GBR Tockwith Ligier JSP217 Gibson
James Allen FRA Graff Oreca 07 Gibson
Enzo Guibbert FRA Graff Oreca 07 Gibson
Ben Keating USA Riley MK30 Gibson
Mark Patterson POR Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP217 Gibson
Cetilar Villorba Corse ITA Roberto Lacorte Dallara P217 Gibson
Miroslav Kanopka SVK Roberto Lacorte Dallara P217 Gibson
*2017 WEC Full season entry
The season kicks off at Monza for the season’s prologue event on Saturday, April 6th.