The Le Mans 24 Hours yielded little reward for Toyota Gazoo Racing, their cars finishing sixth and eighth in the weekend’s race, the centrepiece of the World Endurance Championship season.
The No2 TS040 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin was the highest placed car, with Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima two places further back.
The team left the circuit frustrated but determined to improve in all areas after a result which did not meet the team’s pre-season expectations.
Conway said: “It was my first Le Mans in LMP1 and with Toyota. I learned a lot. We just hung in there and tried to make no mistakes. We were in our own race really.”
Reigning WEC World Champion Davidson added: “It’s obviously disappointing not to make the podium this season at Le Mans. We were up against strong competition and we knew it would be harder this year but it’s proven to be much more difficult than we imagined. We have to stick together, push together and come back stronger. I’m now putting this experience behind me and thinking about next year’s Le Mans.”
The two cars ran consistently and reliably but fell short of the pace of their rivals. An improvement of one second in terms of fastest race lap compared to 2014 was not enough to challenge the Porsche and Audi and led to a solitary race for both cars.
Reliability was high and the team only had to deal with one major incident. Five hours into the race, Davidson clashed with a GT car, damaging the front right corner. That caused handling problems and a further accident followed soon after.
Quick work by the pit crew ensured replacement front and rear bodywork, plus new left rear suspension, were fitted, with the car losing 13 minutes, rejoining the race five laps behind the leader.
Twenty hours of dry weather limited the strategic opportunities and put the emphasis on consistent, reliable running and pit operations. Despite the physical demands of a 24-hour race, the pit crew performed impeccably.
The team returns to base determined to improve and be back at Le Mans stronger and more competitive in 2016. Before then, there are five WEC races remaining, beginning with the Nürburgring in Germany on 30 August.
TS040 Hybrid No1
Anthony Davidson (GB), Sébastien Buemi (CH), Kazuki Nakajima (J)
Race: 8th (+9 laps), 386 laps, 29 pit stops.
Fastest lap: 3min 20.896secs
TS040 Hybrid No2
Alex Wurz (A), Stéphane Sarrazin (F), Mike Conway (GB)
Race: 6th (+8 laps), 387 laps, 30 pit stops.
Fastest lap: 3min 22.633secs