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Toyota Relaunches WEC Junior Program, Signing Ritomo Miyata

Written by Hugh Waring, Edited by Yu Xin Wang

Image: Toyota GazooRacing

Toyota has made an exciting announcement today, as it relaunches its FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) young driver 'Challenge' program. As part of this initiative, the Japanese automaker has signed Ritomo Miyata, a Super GT race winner, as its newest member.

At the age of 23, Miyata has already shown great promise in the motorsport world. Last season, he finished sixth in the Super GT standings while driving for the TOM'S Toyota team. Recently, he achieved his second career GT500 victory at Fuji, alongside his new co-driver Sho Tsuboi.

Miyata's role in the Toyota WEC Challenge Program will involve shadowing the Toyota Hypercar team, although not in a driving capacity. He will join the team at three of this season's WEC rounds, including the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in two weeks' time. During these events, Miyata will participate in simulator training and other driver development work at Toyota's European racing headquarters in Cologne, Germany, where the Hypercar program is based.

To ensure his integration into the program, Miyata has already completed one simulator test at TGR-Europe. The decision to continue his participation in the WEC Challenge Program will be based on his performances and development progress, according to a statement from Toyota.

It is worth noting that the Challenge program had been discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic, but is now being revived with the addition of talented young drivers like Miyata. Kenta Yamashita, the 2019 Super GT champion, was previously part of the program and even had the opportunity to drive a Toyota TS050 Hybrid in the Bahrain rookie test.

On top of Miyata's signing, Toyota will be conducting a training session for some of its other young drivers at Le Mans. Jin Nakamura and Rikuto Kobayashi, who are members of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Driver Challenge Program Racing School, will have the opportunity to learn about the Hypercar project firsthand.

Image: Super GT

The announcement also follows Toyota kickstarting its WRC junior program last year, signing Hikaru Kogure, Nao Otake and Yuki Yamamoto, further promoting the aspirations of young Japanese drivers in the motorsport world.


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