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All-new Japanese blood for Toyota

By Toyota Media
November 12 2006

Kazuki Nakajima, who competed in the 2006 F3 Euro series, was selected as a test driver for the Williams F1 team,for the 2007 season. He also plans to participate on the DAMS team in the GP2 series, a category below F1.

In addition, Kohei Hirate, who also competed in the F3 Euro series this year, plans to race in the GP2 series on theTrident team, starting in 2007. Kamui Kobayashi, winner of the rookie title in the 2006 F3 Euro series, plans tocompete in the series for a second year as a part of the ASM Formula 3 team. Both Hirate and Kobayashi will begiven opportunities to perform F1 tests for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is conducting the Toyota Young Drivers Program (TDP) with the participationof promising young drivers to identify and cultivate new talent and support their continuous improvement. Thisprogram is aimed to foster drivers who hope to compete in top racing categories, both in Japan and throughout theworld. The program will continue support the activities of participating drivers through a process of selection andimprovement in each category in 2007.

  Kohei Hirate (Manor Motorsport):

I will compete in the GP2 series next year and participate in races here (Europe) for another year.Ican also test drive occasionally so I am extremely happy about that.I am very motivated for next season. I have advanced in GP2, which is a step toward F1, and I willdo my very best to come even closer to F1.
  Kazuki Nakajima (Manor Motorsport):

This will be the first time for me to participate in both GP2 and F1. I hope to gain as muchexperience as possible and achieve good results in GP2. I am still not completely sure how F1 is like,but I will have the opportunity to drive as a test driver and hope to contribute to the team whilegaining experience. My ultimate goal is to be an F1 race driver and I hope to make 2007 a year toachieve my goal.
  Kamui Kobayashi (ASM Formula 3):

I will be able to compete in the F3 Euro series next year with the same champion team as this year.I get along well with other team members and I believe that the team structure makes it possible forme to be series champion next year and I am going to pursue that goal. As a member of the Toyotafamily, I would like to take the opportunity that has been given to me to be an F1 test driver and Ihope I can contribute to creating outstanding racecars and support the team. I hope to gain extensiveexperience and become an appreciative driver.
  Yoshiaki Kinoshita, General Manager, TMC Motorsports Division:

Hirate, Nakajima, and Kobayashi have been working very hard in Europe compete in F1, which isone of the goals of the TDP. It is a tremendous honor that Nakajima was offered the opportunity tobe an F1 test driver for the Williams F1 team. TMC will continue to support these drivers as amember of the TDP.
  Hiromi Hayashi, Deputy General Manager, TMC Motorsports Division:

The Japanese media frequently reported the activities of Hirate, Nakajima, and Kobayashi in Europethis year, and I believe their performance was highly evaluated. The three often appeared on thepodium in the highly competitive F3 Euro series, displaying that they can match or even surpass thetop European drivers.
Next year, each driver will have his own issues to address. I hope that when they move up to theGP2 series, Nakajima and Hirate will polish their skills in the more competitive environment, and thatKobayashi will become a champion of the F3 Euro series in his second year. All three plan to race inF1 test programs and I look forward to them making the most of these opportunities and taking onthe challenge of becoming F1 drivers.
Other TDP drivers in Europe and Japan also hone their skills in their respective categories. I am verypleased that our activities are being praised in Europe and Japan.

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