Rally

Ogier completes second WEC Toyota Hypercar test

The eight-time World Rally Championship title winner drove a Toyota GR010 HYBRID at the Aragon circuit in Spain this week, less than two months after his maiden appearance in the car at the World Endurance Championship rookie test in Bahrain last November.

Ogier flew to Spain straight after finishing second in last weekend’s Monte Carlo Rally WRC opener to join a three-day test that began on Sunday.

He was one of seven drivers present for Toyota’s first test of the year.

Five of the race drivers for this year’s WEC programme were present at the single-car test along with reserve driver Nyck de Vries.

Kamui Kobayashi, who was announced as team principal of the Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC squad in December, was absent because he took part in Sunday’s qualifying race for this weekend’s Daytona 24 Hours IMSA SportsCar Championship opener.

Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, who like Kobayashi are driving for the Action Express Racing Cadillac squad at Daytona, took part in the official Roar test on Friday and Saturday before flying back to Europe to join Toyota at Aragon.

A second test for Ogier in the Toyota LMH shouldn’t be interpreted as a signal that he will race for his long-term employer at the Le Mans 24 Hours double-points WEC round at June.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid Hypercar: Sebastien Buemi, Sebastien Ogier

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – Hybrid Hypercar: Sebastien Buemi, Sebastien Ogier

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Toyota announced a continued programme of two cars in the full WEC when at its traditional pre-season motorsport launch in Japan and has repeatedly said that running a third car at Le Mans, as it did in 2017, does not figure in its plans.

A spokesman for Toyota stated that he could “confirm there is no change to the plans we announced in December”.

Ogier’s latest run in a GR010 HYBRID appears to part of an attempt to gain more sportscar experience ahead of what is expected to be an LMP2 campaign in either the WEC or, more likely, the European Le Mans Series.

He explained last week ahead of the Monte that he is still working on his endurance plans for 2022 and should be in a position to announce his full programme of racing and rallying some time in February.

He offered strong hints that Le Mans is likely to be part of his schedule in the coming season.

The Monte was the only rally in which his participation was confirmed, but is is likely he will end up taking part in up to four WRC rounds this year in the new Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid.

The WEC calendar has two direct clashes with the WRC schedule: Fuji and the Acropolis Rally in Greece; and Bahrain and Rally Japan.

The ELMS has none, but three of its six rounds are the weekend before WRC events.

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