The two-time WEC title winner is set to drive one of the US team’s Lexus RC F GT3s at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as Mosport, in place of Jack Hawksworth for the IMSA Sprint Race Is.
As a result of Hawksworth’s failure to make a timely recovery from injuries sustained in a motocross accident in May, the 35-year-old will enter Vassar Sullivan’s GT Daytona Pro class with Ben Barnicott.
Kobayashi said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to drive the Lexus RC F GT3 with Vassar Sullivan this weekend in Canada.
“It’s going to be quite different from what I’m used to driving and it’s going to be challenging, but I’m excited to see how well the RC F handles that.
“I have a lot of support from the Vassar Sullivan team, Lexus and Toyota Racing Development USA to help make me comfortable.
“It will be a challenge, but I am looking forward to it.”
The appearance at the CTMP will be Kobayashi’s first appearance in the GT rank of the IMSA series, with extensive experience in the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class.
He won back-to-back victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2019 and 2020 with the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac squad and is contesting this year’s four-race Michelin Endurance Cup segment of the series with the Action Express Racing Cadillac team .
#14 Vassar Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3: Ben Barnicott, Kyle Kirkwood
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
Kobayashi, who was also named team principal of the Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC squad earlier this season, drove for the Lexus brand at the 2018 Super GT Series in Japan.
He raced for the SARD team with Heikki Kovalainen, winning at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, but has limited experience in GT3 machinery.
The following year’s second appearance with the Japanese team at the Suzuka 10 Hours Round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge followed outing at the Spa 24 Hours on a Mercedes-AMG GT3 powered by Goodsmile Racing in 2017.
He also raced a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo for Hub Auto Corsa at Spa Enduro in 2020.
Kobayashi joined Ferrari’s GTE Pro WEC line-up in 2013 after leaving the Sauber Formula 1 team.
He returned to F1 with Caterham the following year before taking a reserve role with Toyota, which led to a full race seat in 2016.
Hawksworth was forced to miss both the Detroit and Watkins Glen IMSA tours earlier this month due to his injuries.