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Two-time FIA World Endurance Champion Jose Maria Lopez has been confirmed in one of Akkodis ASP’s two Lexus RC F GT3s which will enter the LMGT3 category next year.
The triple World Touring Car Champion will depart the Toyota GAZOO Racing WEC outfit having driven for them since 2017, and has won two WEC championships in addition to the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours with #7 teammates Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi.
Nyck de Vries, formerly a WEC test and reserve driver for Toyota GAZOO Racing, will replace Lopez in the #7 driver line-up for the 2024 season.
Lopez participated in the Goodyear (the LMGT3 tyre manufacturer) test at Portimao after the European Le Mans Series season finale, and drove a Lexus RC F GT3 in which Akkodis ASP will field two in the 2024 WEC.
After 15 wins, four of which in the 2023 season, Lopez will switch to GT3 machinery and make way for the former AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver.
The Lexus has been prominently fronted in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by Vasser Sullivan, and has yet to make its appearance in the WEC due to the GTE formula which will be replaced by LMGT3 next year.
Seven annual Le Mans participations have taken place in either an LMP1 or a Hypercar, the latter category taking over as the WEC’s premier class in 2021.
In a comment from the WEC Team Principal, Kobayashi added his tribute to Lopez’ departure.
“In motorsport, things are constantly evolving and it’s the same with driver line-ups.
“On car #7, Mike, José and me drove together since 2017, which is a really long time in any category.
“We enjoyed some amazing moments together, but also some tough times, particularly at Le Mans.
“I would like to thank José for his massive contribution, as a driver and a team-mate.
“He will always be a part of our Toyota GAZOO Racing family.”
The 2024 WEC season will commence in Qatar with the Prologue testing on 24-25 February, before the 1812 km race on 2 March.
Keyword: Two-time WEC champion Lopez joins Akkodis ASP in WEC 2024 Lexus effort