Nicolas Lapierre says he felt Toyota was a better option for his sports car career than a potential Peugeot seat, even before the French manufacturer withdrew from Le Mans racing.
Lapierre won last year's Sebring 12 Hours in an ORECA-run Peugeot, and admitted that he had talks with Peugeot over joining its works team. But he was ultimately announced as part of the driving strength for Toyota's return to sports car racing's top class.
"There was an obvious connection with Peugeot," Lapierre told AUTOSPORT. "They knew everything that I was doing because they had all our data.
"Contact was made, but I thought the Toyota project was more exciting. It is a new project and it is good to be in at the beginning of what is a big challenge. If I had gone with Peugeot, I would have been just one of nine drivers, but joining Toyota means I will be doing all the tests with the new TS030 Hybrid and be much more involved in building a new project."
The 27-year-old Frenchman had raced with ORECA – Toyota's partner in the TS030 program – since moving from open-wheel cars to sports cars in 2008, and says he now feels fully prepared to be a factory driver with one of the top manufacturers.
"I had three very good years with ORECA and made a good improvement as a driver," said Lapierre. "Single-seater racing is completely different to sports car racing. I had to understand about strategy, looking after my tires and being a team player. I learned those things with ORECA, and now I feel I am ready to drive for a factory team."