Former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi will be replacing Kazuki Nakajima in Le Mans this year, after the Japanese driver sustained a broken vertebrae in a shunt during yesterdays Practice session for the 6 hours of Spa Francorchamps this weekend.
The Toyota driver smashed into the back of the #8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis going down the fast Kemmel Straight section of the track, in what was a rain-soaked Practice One. The impact damaged the chassis of the Toyota and Nakajima was taken to hospital as a precaution after complaining about back pain after the incident.
Toyota said that Nakajima would “need a miracle” in order to be deemed fit for Le Mans later this month. “Kazuki is in good spirits but he will be out for a while for sure,” said team director Rob Leupen. “We are supporting him and will help him to get fit as soon as possible.”
With regards to his replacement, Kobayashi has “been informed to be ready” as he will be flown “over to Europe as soon as possible” according to Leupen. Toyota plan on running a test before Le Mans at Spa later this month, which should give the former Caterham F1 team driver some experience at the wheel of the TS040.