Toyota has announced an unchanged driver line-up for the 2023 WEC season

The Japanese manufacturer announced on Friday that Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez will once again race the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid and reigning champion Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa will remain together in the #8 Le Mans Hypercar.

Lopez, who won the WEC title with Kobayashi and Conway in 2019/20 and ’21, has been retained for a sixth season by the Toyota Gazoo Racing squad after he appeared to lose out to Nyck de Vries for 2023.

It is understood that de Vries would have moved from the position of test and reserve driver to a full-time race seat in Lopez’s place had he failed to secure a Formula 1 deal, which he eventually achieved with AlphaTauri.

Kobayashi, who was named as team principal of the WEC squad late last year, said: “We have achieved all our targets this year, winning Le Mans, Fuji and the world championships. [drivers’ and manufacturers’]thanks to the great support from Toyota and our partners.

“But we start again in 2023 with stronger competition, so we have to improve ourselves, make our team and car stronger.

“The drivers are an important part of our team and I’m happy to drive with Mike, Jose, Seb, Brendon and Ryo again in 2023.

“We have a strong team spirit throughout the team, especially among the drivers, and we are together as a family.”

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – Hybrid LMP1: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: Toyota Racing

He described the spirit as “a big strength for our team” and stressed its importance for the new season when Ferrari, Porsche and Cadillac will join the WEC’s Hypercar class.

“This big fight is what we all want in motorsport and I think it’s really exciting for the fans,” he added.

Lopez said: “I am very happy to continue in the team for another year, especially alongside Mike and Kamui.

“We had a really close relationship and were like brothers in previous seasons.

“There is a great spirit in the whole team and we will need that to face the battle next year when the Hypercar class will be incredibly competitive.”

Hirakawa, who replaces Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 for ’22, explained that he aims to “come back stronger and more ready for the big challenge” in his second season in the WEC.

The announcement from Toyota did not mention a reserve driver and whether de Vries would be replaced.

No details were given on the upgrades planned for the GR010 Hybrid next year.

Toyota has opted to redesign the GR010 LMH for its third season rather than build a new car, it confirmed earlier this month.

The updates, according to Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon, will be “more subtle” than those introduced for 2022, which were not confirmed until just before the season opener at Sebring in March.

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