Despite setbacks, Toyota Racing has finally filled the seats of its TS030 hybrid race cars, which will debut next month at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Stephane Sarrazin will occupy the final spot on the team that originally meant to debut at the six hours of Spa-Francorchamps. A crash forced the team not to run the race, and things get even more complicated when Hioaki Ishiura withdrew from the No. 8 car lineup because of persistant back pain.
Things finally look like they’re back on track for the team, with Sarrazin’s race experience filling the gap. Despite having just signed on, it seems as if the transition will be smooth. The compatibility evaluation was completed this week at Paul Ricard Circuit, with Sarrazin and the No. 8 car showing the teamwork and consistency Toyota will need to make a competitive presence.
“It has been quite intense this week to become familiar with the team and the car,” he admitted, “but I have received great support and I feel we have made good progress. It is a steep learning curve with a completely new technology and we will no doubt learn a lot this season. It’s a new and exciting challenge for me.”
The excitement, however, isn’t all his. “We are very pleased to recruit a driver of Stephane’s quality and experience to Toyota Racing,” said Yoshiaki Kinoshita, team president. “He has a great knowledge of Le Mans and a proven track record, including two second-place finishes, so we are confident he will be a strong addition to our driver lineup. Several team members,” he noted, ” remember Stephane very well from his previous time at TMG and we are all looking forward to working with him again.”