PODIUM FINISH FOR TOYOTA AT LE MANS
Toyota negotiated gruelling weather and an incident-packed race to bring both its TS030 Hybrid cars home in the Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday (23 June). The No8 car of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin equalled Toyota’s best result at the race in second and the No7 machine of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima came home fourth.
The Davison/Buemi/Sarrazin car enjoyed a relatively trouble free run in a race that was marked by treacherous conditions and 11 safety car periods. Its racing hybrid system demonstrated excellent reliability, en route to second place at the chequered flag. It was hampered in its progress only by fuel stops that coincided with the safety car being on track, which meant more time lost waiting to exit the pit lane.
In spite of its speed and reliability, it was ultimately unable to reel in the winning No2 Audi, finishing just one lap down. It proved the fastest of the Toyota duo, posting a race lap best of 3min 25.151sec.
For British driver Davison, the result marked a fantastic return to form, following the high-speed accident that sidelined him from last year’s race and which kept him out of competition for the rest of 2012.
He said: “The conditions were really tough but the team and the car did not miss a beat. Everyone pulled together; Toyota Racing did a great job and I always said if we all do the job that I know we can do, we will get at least a podium. We didn’t have the ultimate speed from the car to win, that was clear from the moment we arrived here, but we didn’t give up, we kept pushing and we knew this was a race in which anything can happen.
“It was amazing for me to bounce back and finally end up on the podium at Le Mans. I’ve always dreamed of this and it was a fantastic feeling.”
The No7 TS030 had a more challenging race, culminating in Lapierre sliding off the flooded track. Undaunted, the team had his damaged car repaired and back in the race within 30 minutes, helping clinch fourth place and a 100 per cent finish record for the Toyota entries.
This year’s result equals Toyota’s best Le Mans finish, having taken the runners-up spot previously in 1992 with the TS010, 1994 with the 94C-V and 1999 with the TS020.