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Miyata set for SUPER GT exit in favour of Lexus WEC seat

Toyota driver Ritomo Miyata is set to exit SUPER GT in order to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship next season.

#57 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Ritomo Miyata

Miyata is expected to embark on a full campaign in the 2024 WEC as part of an anticipated factory-backed Lexus effort in the new LMGT3 class.

The 24-year-old Japanese driver will combine this with another season in Super Formula racing for Toyota’s flagship TOM’S squad, something made possible by a lack of date conflicts between the two championships.

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But there is no room in Miyata’s schedule to remain in SUPER GT, with the 2024 calendar featuring two clashes with the WEC.

That means next month’s Motegi season finale, where Miyata will bid for a first GT500 title alongside his TOM’S team-mate Sho Tsuboi, is set to be his last in SUPER GT for the foreseeable future.

 

It comes after Miyata was unveiled as an official WEC Challenge driver by Toyota at the start of the year, which is likely to be a precursor to an eventual spot on the Japanese marque’s Hypercar roster.

He was also able to make his WEC race debut last month at Fuji driving a Ferrari 488 GTE for the CarGuy-backed Kessel Racing squad, after being drafted in as a late replacement for Davide Rigon.

Miyata’s SUPER GT exit leaves a major hole in the #36 TOM’S line-up for the 2024 season alongside Tsuboi, who is set for his fourth different team-mate in as many years since joining the team.

Motorsport.com understands that current Rookie Racing Toyota driver Kenta Yamashita is the leading candidate to fill the gap.

Yamashita, who won the 2019 GT500 title alongside current team-mate Kazuya Oshima, is no stranger to TOM’S, having raced for the team in Japanese Formula 3 in 2014-16.

He also made two GT500 outings in the #37 TOM’S car at the end of the 2020 season alongside Ryo Hirakawa, replacing Nick Cassidy.

 

It's unclear who would replace Yamashita alongside Oshima at Rookie Racing at this stage, but paddock speculation suggests that Toyota is eyeing signing a driver from a rival manufacturer instead of gambling on a rookie.

There could still be room on the Toyota roster for a GT500 newcomer in 2024 however with Yuji Tachikawa’s forthcoming retirement opening up a seat at the Cerumo team.

Sena Sakaguchi has been linked to the Cerumo seat alongside Hiroaki Ishiura, although there is also still a possibility that he will remain with Racing Project Bandoh depending on other driver market movements.

Motorsport.tv is showing all qualifying sessions and races for the 2023 SUPER GT season. For more information, click here.

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