Kobayashi heads to sports cars with Ferrari

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One of Formula 1’s most exciting drivers left without a ride this year, Kamui Kobayashi, will head to sports car racing in 2013.

The Japanese driver has concluded a deal to race for the Italian AF Corse squad in the FIA World Endurance Championship, in a GTE Pro class Ferrari F458 Italia.

“It’s an honor for me to become part of the Ferrari family,” he said. “I will work hard and give my all in this new chapter of my career. I can’t wait to start working with AF Corse and really hope I can aim for the title.”

Kobayashi’s teammates have not yet been named, although Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Beretta are in the frame for seats at most WEC races.

Kobayashi raced three full seasons with the Sauber team and scored his first podium at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. Sauber replaced both Kobayashi and the departed Sergio Perez, with Nico Hulkenberg joining from Force India and third driver Esteban Gutierrez graduating from the GP2 Series.

He made his debut with Toyota for the last two races of 2009, deputizing for the injured Timo Glock. Some spectacular passing maneuvers on his debut in Brazil marked him as a man to watch, and he scored his first points finish with sixth in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to end that season.

Kobayashi’s countryman and fellow ex-F1 driver, Kazuki Nakajima, has been confirmed to Toyota’s FIA WEC LMP1 program for this season.