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Toyota Racing filled the final seat for its two-car effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month, naming endurance expert Stephane Sarrazin to drive the No. 8 TS030 Hybrid at the twice-around-the-clock summer classic.
The Frenchman, 36, replaces Hioaki Ishiura, who withdrew his position with the team earlier in May due to persistent back pain. Sarrazin completes the driver line-up for the No. 8 car, joining Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi.
The Toyota Racing team completed its compatibility evaluation with Sarrazin during testing this week at Paul Ricard and, as expected from a vastly experienced endurance driver, he showed the requisite speed, consistency and necessary teamwork the Toyota Racing team was looking toward.
The No. 7 line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima also tested at Paul Ricard with the No. 8 crew. They completed a four-day test beginning Tuesday, May 22 to evaluate performance items and setups ahead of the team's third successful endurance test with the TS030 Hybrid racecars.
This assignment is a return to Toyota Racing for Sarrazin, who served as a Formula One test driver for the team in 2002.
“I am really happy and proud to get this chance to participate at Le Mans for Toyota Racing," Sarrazin said. "I have good memories of working with TMG; they work very hard and it is a real pleasure to be back.
"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.”
"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."
Stephane Sarrazin has secured three consecutive 24 Heures du Mans pole positions (with Peugeot Sport Total) and has finished on podium twice (2007, 2009).
Toyota Racing's next outing takes place at the Le Mans circuit, where its two teams participate in the one-day test in preparation for the Le Mans 24-hour race.