Posted on December 18, 2021 at 7:35 p.m. – updated on December 18, 2021 at 7:36 p.m.
While he will no longer be engaged full time in rallying, Sébastien Ogier has made no secret of his ambition to race in endurance. New director of the Toyota team, Kamui Kobayashi did not rule out the possibility of entering a third prototype at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Gapençais at the wheel.
Sébastien Ogier will he realize one of his dreams in 2023? The eight-time world rally champion, who will only make a partial WRC program next season, wants to broaden his horizons in motorsport. The Gapençais has already participated in circuit races, in the French GT championship, in Porsche Supercup or even in DTM, but an event is a real dream for him: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. From this perspective, the tests behind the wheel of the Toyota GR010 Hybrid carried out a few weeks ago in Bahrain are not innocent. But an immediate transition from rallying to endurance has been ruled out with Ryo Hirakawa who will start in 2022 in place of Kazuki Nakajima. Now manager of the Japanese manufacturer’s team in parallel with his pilot activity, Kamui Kobayashi recently agreed that Sébastien Ogier could be part of his medium-term plans, with the centenary of the classic Le Mans in 2023 as an opportunity. While competition will strengthen with the arrival of manufacturers such as Peugeot, Ferrari, Porsche and Audi by 2023, Toyota plans to enter three prototypes again at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Kobayashi: « Ogier drove very well from the start »
On the sidelines of the FIA gala, Kamui Kobayashi however admitted that such an enlargement will be « a big job » for a team which has worked with two cars for several years. » If we want to introduce a third car, we have to prepare all the mechanics, the engineers, also on the driver’s side., the Japanese told reporters. I would say it’s going to be very difficult for 2022, because the timing is a bit tight. But that could be one of the options for 2023. “As for the drivers, the name of Sébastien Ogier has logically returned and Kamui Kobayashi has confirmed his interest in the Gapençais. » Going from rallying to asphalt and endurance cars, I would say there is a pretty big difference, but Sébastien Ogier drove really well from the start, confided the new boss of the Toyota team. I think it can be quite interesting, if he wants to race at Le Mans with our car. We will try to give him more opportunities to drive and we will see if we put in place a third car. It would probably be an opportunity for him. »With a participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sébastien Ogier would then follow in the footsteps of Sébastien Loeb, who took part in the classic Le Mans twice, in 2005 and in 2006.