Former McLaren Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne is set to compete in the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji with Peugeot TotalEnergies, standing in for the injured Nico Muller in the No. 94 9X8 Hypercar.
The race in Japan will be the 2021-22 Formula E title winner’s first in the FIA WEC since the end of his 2021 campaign with JOTA Sport in LMP2 and his first in the top class since the 2018-19 season when he made two starts in LMP1 with SMP Racing.
Muller is unable to travel to Japan due to a collarbone injury, which has forced him to put his season on hold. Thus, Vandoorne has been called into action for a race seat with Peugeot from his current role as its reserve driver for the first time. He will compete alongside full-season drivers Gustavo Menezes and Loic Duval.
“During summer break, I sustained an injury on my left collarbone,” said Müller in a statement on social media. “It’s been perfectly treated by specialists and I am already fully in the phase of rehabilitation.
“In consultation with the doctors & my Team Peugeot Total Energies – in order to allow optimal healing – I decided to refrain from participating in the next WEC round in Fuji.
“Even though I am very disappointed by having to sit out the one race, I am fully committed to coming back stronger than ever!
“Thanks to the doctors, my family, my teams, my partners & you guys for your support!”
Vandoorne has tested the 9X8 prior to the weekend in Fuji as part of his role with the team. He was also due to take part in the 2022 post-season FIA WEC rookie test in Bahrain, but had to skip it due to a bout of appendicitis and was forced to wait until February this year to get seat time in the car.
Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport’s technical director, says he has complete faith in Vandoornes ability to step in on short notice.
“Unfortunately, Nico won’t be able to race for this round and we wish him a speedy recovery. Stoffel Vandoorne has all our trust, and we know that he will be able to step in quickly and give his maximum,” he said.
“We are entering the last part of the season and our aim will be to be 100% reliable for the last two races and fight at the front with both our Peugeot 9X8. We will get ready as best as we can for these two races, trying to be consistent in our performance and race results.”
Vandoorne, a previous GP2 champion, is not the only driver who has been called up on short notice to compete at Fuji. An updated entry list for the race reveals that Ben Hanley will compete in the No. 23 United LMP2 seat that was originally set to be filled by Tom Blomqvist.
Blomqvist is set to compete in the remaining 2023 IndyCar races at Portland and Laguna Seca instead, ahead of his recently announced full-season drive in the US single-seater championship with Meyer Shank Racing in 2024. In addition, Andrea Caldarelli has also been named in the No. 63 PREMA ORECA with Doriane Pin and Danill Kvyat. It will be a second start in a row for the Italian 2024 Lamborghini Hypercar driver, after competing in the 6 Hours of Monza last month.
The 2023 FIA WEC Six Hours of Fuji is set to take place on September 10th.