Fernando Alonso’s World Endurance Championship adventures appear to be coming to an end for the time being, with the Spaniard departing the series after this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Towards the end of Alonso’s Formula 1 career, he began dabbling in the world of sportscar racing and signed a deal with the Toyota GAZOO Racing team in World Endurance Championship. An initial victory at Spa-Francorchamps proved just a warm-up for the former F1 Champion, who also wrapped up victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours last June alongside teammates Sebastien Buemi and Kamui KobayashI.
With WEC’s ‘Superseason’ ongoing and set to conclude with this year’s Le Mans race, Alonso will depart the team after the race. With a fifteen point lead in the Championship with two rounds remaining, Alonso and his teammates stand a good chance of winning the title overall. According to the team, following his season ending, he will depart for other racing opportunities within the Toyota GAZOO family. This may be to tackle the grueling Dakar rally, having tested a Toyota GAZOO Hilux last month in South Africa.
His spot at the WEC team will be taken by Brendon Hartley. The former Toro Rosso F1 racer has a wealth of experience in the championship from racing with Porsche, and is also a former Le Mans winner and series Champion.
“I have enjoyed being part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in WEC but this chapter is ending.” said Fernando Alonso as the announcement was made.
“Winning Le Mans is one of the highlights of my career as part of my Triple Crown challenge and I will always remember that victory which we achieved together as a team last year. Now is a good time to take on new challenges and there are many interesting opportunities to explore within TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. I wish Brendon all the best for next season and I would like to thank all the team members for the big effort they continue to make to achieve success in WEC.”
“We still have two important races remaining as we are still in the fight to become WEC World Champions and I will be pushing hard to win both of them. I would love to put an end to this super season by celebrating a new world title with all the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing family. Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to say thanks to all WEC and ACO members for such a warm welcome and experience.”
Hartley, who remains a shoe-in to also join Porsche in their vacant seat in Formula E for next season, will begin his role with Toyota during Le Mans testing on 2nd June.
“A big thanks to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for giving me this opportunity.” said the New Zealander. “I know how professional and motivated this team is following my years competing against them in WEC, so I am fired up and am very happy to be joining them. I believe I am returning to WEC an even stronger driver following my experience in Formula 1 and I look forward to getting on track and building a strong relationship with my new team. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the TS050 HYBRID; the first tests can’t come soon enough.”