TOYOTA GAZOO Racing secures historic Le Mans quadruple

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, partnered by Acronis, powered to a fourth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory, the #7 Hypercar of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López finally ending their jinx to beat the sister #8 GR010 HYBRID.

The 1-2 finish was certainly not without incident and a major scare, when a fuel system issue threatened to derail the challenge of both cars in the second half of the race. But it was Kobayashi who eventually took the chequered flag first to emotional scenes in the winning garage.

“It is an amazing feeling to be here as a Le Mans winner,” said Kobayashi afterward. “We had to go through so many experiences over the years, some of them very difficult, to get here. I always knew Le Mans requires luck to win and we needed some luck today as well. We had to do a special procedure just to keep the running.

“We did the maximum we could do to survive for the last seven hours; it was an almost impossible job. Normally the race would end there for us but somehow we survived because the team worked really hard and made the right call. My team-mates, car crew and engineers did a great job during the week. Thank you to everyone.”

It was Kobayashi who put the #7 on pole position but it was the #8 who were very nearly out of the race from the start, Sébastien Buemi dropping to the rear of the field on the opening lap having been hit by the #708 Glickenhaus. As Buemi fought to put the team back into contention, he also suffered a damaged wheel rim and puncture following contact with a lapped car and a fuel system problem in the final quarter of the race.

And although the #8 GR010 HYBRID drivers also had to activate system resets to rectify a similar problem, it was a mighty effort for both cars to come home to complete a historic 1-2 ahead of the first Alpine.

“It was a hard race. We knew we had an issue on the car for the last six hours and that could have been a really big problem, but the team came up with a solution to keep us going,” added Britain’s Mike Conway. “All credit to them for getting a one-two finish. It is really special in the circumstances. This race is never easy. Even if you are out on your own at the front, anything can happen.

“I want to thank my team-mates for their mega stints and hard work all the time, plus the team in Cologne and Japan for their support and hard work that made this possible. We can enjoy it now because a weight is lifted off us.”

Victory for the #8 team represents more than a little poetic justice, the drivers twice having been in a position to win the previous two years before technical issues and misfortune scuppered their chances.

“The last Le Mans races were quite tough for us as a crew and to finally win this race is a dream come true,” reflected José María López. “It is simply amazing. We came so far for so many years but, up to now, we couldn’t win Le Mans.

“All those experiences make the victory even more special. Mike and Kamui are like brothers to me and I have seen them doing things in the car which are just amazing. Of course there is a strong team behind us in Japan and Cologne. We take the glory but we couldn’t do this without this team. Thanks to all of you.”

A delighted Team President Hisatake Murata added: “This was a very hard race and a real team victory, in difficult circumstances. We asked a lot of our drivers and I am amazed by their skills to implement our solution without any time loss. It was a true team effort; we never gave up and the whole team tried everything to achieve the victory.

“Thank you to everyone involved in this achievement; the team members, our partners and our colleagues at Toyota Motor Corporation who give us so much support. Congratulations to all the winners and to our Hypercar competitors, Alpine and Glickenhaus, who fought us all the way and showed the true spirit of this race.”

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Motorsport Technology