TOYOTA RACING SCORES FLAG-TO-FLAG VICTORY IN BRAZIL
Toyota Racing led from start to finish to claim the team’s first victory in just its third race, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Drivers Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre started from pole position in the No7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid and dominated Saturday’s six-hour race, maintaining the car’s record of leading every race in which has competed.
The result is Toyota’s first victory in an FIA world championship event since the 1999 Rally of China (Didier Auriol/Denis Girardet in the Corolla WRC), and its first international endurance race success since Geoff Lees and Hitoshi Ogawa won at Monza in the TS010.
It is also another landmark in the history of Toyota’s development of hybrid technology for motorsport, a project launched in 2006 under Hisatake Murata, who is now the race team’s Hybrid Project Leader. In 2007 a Toyota Supra was the first hybrid race winner, taking honours at the Tokachi 24 Hours in Japan. Since then Toyota has extensively developed the pioneering supercapacitor technology, reducing weight and increasing power, to produce the unique powertrain for today’s TS030 Hybrid.
Lapierre held the lead into the first corner from the rolling start at the Interlagos circuit and continued to set the pace at the front before handing over to Wurz with just over 90 minutes gone.
Following a fuel stop, an incident down the field caused a short safety car period, helping the No7 Toyota extend its lead to more than 40 seconds.
At the restart Wurz maintained a blistering pace to stretch his advantage to more than a minute before handing back to Lapierre with two-and-a-half hours to go. As the race entered its final quarter, he had extended the lead to a full lap.
The TS030 Hybrid was clearly the fastest car and as the race entered its final hour. A very short fuel stop for Lapierre with just a few minutes to go allowed him to take a well-deserved victory more than a minute clear of his nearest challenger.
Toyota Racing’s next action will be the Six Hours of Bahrain at the Bahrain International Circuit on 29 September when Wurz and Lapierre will again be driving the No7 TS030 Hybrid.
Alex Wurz: “I am proud to be a Toyota driver. The Toyota hybrid system has been simply outstanding. I like Interlagos, a circuit that is really special for me, so it is a great feeling to win here in only our third race. It was not easy and we pushed like crazy. The key was certainly the tyre management and we were able to make the difference in the second stint thanks to our Michelin tyres.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “This is a fantastic win for all the team. Since the beginning, we’ve known we have a fast car. After leading at Le Mans we had to work on the reliability. After the podium at Silverstone we had to improve our fuel consumption. We made it. All the team has worked really well since the beginning of the project and this weekend also. Alex did a wonderful job in qualifying to get the pole and during the race we managed the tyres well. The car was handling very well throughout the whole day and the hybrid system gave us again an incredible performance. It is simply wonderful!”
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “This is an incredible day for all of us in the team. To stand on the top step of the podium has been our dream and to achieve this is only our third race is a dream come true. It’s not only a fantastic result for Toyota Racing, it also shows how exciting the FIA World Endurance Championship is. We know Audi will come back strongly in the next races so we are looking forward to continuing our close, and genuinely friendly, rivalry.”