The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing drivers that enjoyed a dominant 2020 season in winning the World Endurance Championship and famous 24 Hours of Le Mans have expressed their excitement at the launch of the GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López crowned their title winning season with victory in Bahrain and will drive the #7 GR010 HYBRID while Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, who triumphed at Le Mans, again race with the #8 car.
They have already started an intense programme of developing the GR010 HYBRID, with three three-day tests already completed as the team adapts to new regulations which are a significant shift in terms of performance and philosophy.
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@TGR_WEC) January 15, 2021
“Everyone is excited to see the GR010 HYBRID racing for the first time,” commented Conway. It’s always cool to drive a race car for the first time and a nice challenge to get used to all the small differences.
“I have been surprised how good the car feels after just a few days testing; I already feel at home in it. It is a fantastic experience to be part of racing developments which will be translated into future road cars. The whole team is motivated by that and looking forward to show the car to the fans this season. To start the new season as World Champion is cool; it gives all three of us on #7 a nice boost. But it’s one thing to win a title and another to retain it. The goal is to win the championship again and also get the big one; Le Mans.”
— Prosperity IM (@ProsperityIM) January 15, 2021
For Kobayashi, victory at Le Mans will almost certainly be a big priority, for the Japanese driver has finished runner-up in the LMP1 class on three occasions.
“I really like the concept of hypercar and the GR010 HYBRID; it’s great to be part of a project to bring Le Mans performance into a road car,” said Kobayashi. “The objectives and the requirements don’t change. We are racing to win and as drivers we have to be fast and consistent, even more so considering the balance of performance; we cannot make mistakes. Personally, my number one target this year is to win Le Mans after such bad luck in the last few years. All the mechanics and engineers on car #7 deserve to win Le Mans.”
Sebastien Buemi is no stranger to success on the big stage, having won two WEC championships as well as three class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I am really pleased with the GR010 HYBRID; it feels like a very good car and it looks stunning,” added Buemi. “Actually, I was not expecting to be as fun to drive as it is; I thought it would feel like a GT car. But we learned a lot during our LMP1 era and we used that knowledge to improve the new car, so it feels like a prototype and I really enjoy driving such a fast car.
“We are getting ready for the first race of the season when we want to fight for the win right from the start. It was great to succeed in LMP1 but now we want to do the same in the Le Mans Hypercar era.”
Another driver to have won three times at Le Mans as well as the WEC crown is Kazuki Nakajima. And the second Japanese Toyota driver is hungry for yet more success in 2021.
"I am very excited to face a new era of @FIAWEC with the Hypercar. It is quite different to what we had before." 💬 @kazuki_info 🇯🇵#TOYOTAGAZOORacing #PushingTheLimitsForBetter @24hoursoflemans pic.twitter.com/foXXkMLzGT
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@TGR_WEC) January 14, 2021
“The car looks great and it will be spectacular to watch when it is racing flat-out,” said Nakajima. “I think the racing will be closer than ever this season; everyone in the Le Mans Hypercar class will be pushing to win which is good for drivers and fans.
“We need a different approach but the goal won’t change and the target for this season is always clear. We want to win Le Mans for a fourth time for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and the World Championship.”
Like Buemi and Nakajima, New Zealander Brendon Hartley has won both the WEC title and 24 Hours of Le Mans (both twice) and is hopeful of continuing that success story.
“The big difference is the extra weight and a bit less horsepower and downforce, but it’s still just as much fun to drive as the TS050 HYBRID. We have a fun challenge ahead of us to extend the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing legacy at Le Mans and in WEC by continuing our winning run.”