Kamui Kobayashi to race for Toyota WEC team in 2016

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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.