Reigning Super Formula champion Ritomo Miyata will make a surprise move to Formula 2 next year as well as racing in the European Le Mans Series.
The 24-year-old won the Japanese Formula 4 title in 2016 and ’17 as a Toyota junior, then came second in the Japanese Formula 3 championship two years in a row before winning the title in 2020 as the series evolved into Super Formula Lights.
That year he also earned a seat in Super GT’s top GT500 class with one of Toyota’s teams and made his debut in SF. Miyata claimed his first Super GT500 win in 2022, then this year took three wins en route to the title and won two races in SF as he became champion there too. In both series he was racing for TOM’S.
Miyata will become reserve driver for Toyota’s World Endurance Championship hypercar team and move his racing to Europe as part of its ‘Challenge Program’ driver development scheme.
The team he will join in F2 for 2024 is yet to be announced, while in ELMS he will be part of Cool Racing’s line-up in the top LMP2 prototype sportscar class.
“First of all, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Morizo [the nickname of Toyota president Akio Toyoda] and everyone at Toyota Gazoo Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive in FIA F2 and ELMS,” said Miyata.
“I have been selected as a training driver for the WEC Challenge Programme starting in 2023, which has given me more opportunities to travel to Europe with the team and participate in hypercar simulator tests with TGR Europe. Everyone has been very supportive of my desire to be active worldwide. In that sense, I want to live up to everyone’s expectations, and it makes me feel once again that I want to continue to work with a sense of gratitude.”
Kazuki Nakajima, the vice-chairman of TGR Europe, added: “As the WEC Challenge Programme has been selecting training drivers since last year and planning Miyata’s activities for 2024, I am happy that these opportunities for F2 and ELMS were made possible, and I would like to thank all those involved.
“In particular, his participation in F2 was made possible by Morizo’s encouragement and support of [Ryo] Hirakawa’s opportunity to become a McLaren reserve driver along with Miyata’s own achievements in 2023. This is a great opportunity for Miyata to gain experience in both formula and endurance racing and will open up many possibilities beyond that, depending on how hard he works. I am very happy for what the program will do in 2024, and it makes me brace myself up.”