McLaren announce Le Mans winner Ryo Hirakawa as 2024 reserve driver
McLaren have announced that Japanese racer Ryo Hirakawa will join their Driver Development programme for 2024, while also becoming a reserve driver for the squad.
Hirakawa claimed the 2022 Hypercar World Endurance Drivers’ Championship title with Toyota – including taking victory in that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – while he currently leads the 2023 championship, having recently won the 6 Hours of Portimao race. The Japanese racer also has experience in his nation’s Super GT and Super Formula categories.
McLaren confirmed that the 29-year-old will run laps in the team’s 2021-spec MCL35M as part of a testing programme, while also completing simulator work at the McLaren Technology Centre in the UK alongside his role with Toyota.
“I’m happy to have joined the McLaren F1 Team as a reserve driver,” said Hirakawa. “It’s an exciting prospect to work with such a respected team and I’m grateful to Zak [Brown, McLaren Racing CEO] and Andrea [Stella, McLaren Team Principal] for the opportunity. I’ve already met the team and experienced the simulator at MTC which has allowed me to hit the ground running. I’m now fully prepared and focused for the remainder of 2023.”
McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella added: “I’m pleased to welcome Ryo to McLaren Racing as a Formula 1 reserve driver to further strengthen our growing support driver pool. We are thankful to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for their collaboration by allowing Ryo to take on the new role alongside his driving duties.
“He has an impressive record on track, winning Le Mans as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“We look forward to working closely with Ryo, who has already spent time on the simulator at MTC. His wealth of experience will benefit the team in a number of areas as he joins our strong stable of drivers.”