© Toyota

Kamui Kobayashi to race for Toyota WEC team in 2016

Leave a comment

Ex-Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi will race for Toyota’s LMP1 team in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.

Kobayashi, 29, made his F1 debut with Toyota back in 2009 as a replacement for the injured Timo Glock, taking part in what would be the Japanese manufacturer’s last two races before quitting the series.

Kobayashi spent three years with Sauber before moving into the WEC with Ferrari’s factory GT team, AF Corse.

However, he chose to walk away from this in 2014 for another shot at F1 with Caterham, only to spend the year languishing at the back of the grid and being something of a ‘second choice’ at the end of the year when the team was beset by financial problems.

Kobayashi will now return to the WEC for 2016, replacing Alexander Wurz in the six-man line-up at Toyota following the Austrian’s retirement having previously tested for the team last year.

“I’m really excited to be an LMP1 race driver and I would like to thank Toyota for this opportunity,” Kobayashi said. “I tested the TS040 Hybrid a few times and it was a seriously impressive car; the power of the hybrid system in particular was amazing.

“Now I can’t wait to see what the new car feels like; I am sure it will be a big step forward and put us back in the fight at the front. Racing in LMP1 will be a new experience for me and I am looking forward to it a lot.

“There will be plenty to learn but I know my team-mates will support me and I am sure I can be competitive right from the start. Now my focus is on preparing properly for the new season and being absolutely ready for Silverstone.”

Kobayashi will race alongside Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway in 2016, while the second Toyota will once again be shared by Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.

Toyota confirmed that it will be announcing a new test/reserve driver in place of Kobayashi next month.

What’s next for Danica Patrick after the Indy 500? Dreams, downtime and waffles

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – When Danica Patrick was a 14-year-old growing up in Roscoe, Illinois, she had a firm idea of what she’d be doing 20 years later.

A reporter from her hometown newspaper recently reminded her of that in a recent interview when he brought a prescient artifact from those teenage years – an essay that she crafted as an up and coming go-kart driver about her racing accomplishments.

“I’m breezing through it, and then at the end, it said, ‘I wanted to race Indy cars,” Patrick, 36, said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I was 14. I told him, ‘See? If this isn’t an example of “Write that shit down,” nothing is.’

“This is manifesting. You have write it down and you have to imagine what you want. So I do that as much as I can.”

Heading into the final start of her career in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 (she will start seventh in her No. 13 Dallara-Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing), Patrick already seems to have a solid idea of the next 20 years — in part, because of having some glimpses into her post-racing life.

There has been plenty of downtime since her final NASCAR start in the Daytona 500 three months ago. She has taken vacations (including an India trip to meet the Dalai Lama with boyfriend Aaron Rodgers) and created several new routines on her suddenly free from racing weekends.

“I make waffles on Sundays now,” she said. “That’s pretty fun.  In the summer, there’s like farmers market.  I can’t wait for that.  I mean, there’s going to be probably some new stuff that I don’t know yet.

“The one thing that I am definitely looking forward to less of is less stress.  Last weekend was awesome at the end of it all because it went well with qualifying, but I was nervous for 95% of that weekend. That’s uncomfortable.”

But testing her comfort zone is appealing to Patrick, who has spent most of her adult life testing the boundaries of gender norms in her profession. Though the pressure of race weekends might disappear, her incessant quest for challenges probably will remain.

Now that racing is over, Patrick still has a winery, a clothing line, a cookbook and a fitness manual to promote – and more is on the way.

“I just have a habit for pushing myself to uncomfortable spaces, making them comfortable for me,” she said. “At least just making them comfortable enough to be able to manage.

“As an example, I went bungee jumping a long while back, like 10 years.  I’m super scared of heights.  I’m still scared of heights.  But I just like to know that if I want to do something, I am brave enough and confident enough to do it.  That doesn’t mean I’m not still scared.  That doesn’t mean it’s not still something that’s easy to me afterward. I just like to know I can get past the fear if I have to.

“I’m OK with transitioning into other things, finding a little bit of happiness and joy each day, less colorization of emotions. I’m ready for that.”

So what specifically is on tap? Talk shows? Another book?

Patrick demurs when pressed.

“I think I have definitely big dreams and aspirations for myself, for all my companies, for the kind of emotion I want to have on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a good, easy, happy, calm, joyful, exciting, adventurous life.  If I say I want it, there’s a very good chance that’s what I’ll get.”

In the short-term, there’s hosting an ESPN awards show that will keep her busy through July.

And after that, her schedule will free up just as Green Bay Packers training camp begins for Rodgers, the two-time MVP quarterback.

“I’m thinking I’m going to have plenty of time to write a cookbook in Green Bay,” she said.