Toyota Gazoo Racing delighted a home crowd by delivering a one-two result in the 6 Hours of Fuji yesterday (14 October), the fourth round of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The win was claimed by the No7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, which crossed the line 11.4 seconds ahead of team-mates Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso in the No8 car. It was the first win of the season for the No7 crew, in spite of their having started the race from eighth place on the grid.
It was Toyota’s sixth win from seven WEC starts at its home circuit in Japan; for Conway and Kobayashi it was their first success since their victory at the same venue in 2016. López celebrated posting both the fastest lap of the race and his first win in the WEC since joining the team last season.
Conway said: “It was not an easy race, especially starting from eighth, but our car performed really well and my team-mates did a fantastic job as usual. They were solid and consistent which was exactly what we needed. It’s great to get another win after coming so close for the last two years and to get it now at the home race is obviously great.”
The race took place in a combination of heavy rain and drying conditions, calling for strategic tyre changes. A 30-minute safety car period further complicated the race, with the momentum swinging between the two Toyotas. López set the fastest lap on lap 153 while leading the race and maintained a stable gap at the front before handing the wheel to Kobayashi with half an hour left to run.
The team are now focusing on repeating the result when the championship heads to China for the 6 Hours of Shanghai on 16 November, the final race of the year.
The Fuji result extends Toyota Gazoo Racing’s lead in the teams’ World Championship to 14 points over Rebellion Racing. Buemi, Nakajima and Alonso stretched their advantage in the drivers’ standings, with Conway, Kobayashi and López moving up to second, 13 points behind.
1st No7 Toyota Gazoo Racing 230 laps
2nd No8 Toyota Gazoo Racing +11.440secs
3rd No1 Rebellion (Jani/Lotterer/Senna) +4 laps
4th No11 SMP (Aleshin/Petrov/Button) +11 laps
5th No4 ByKolles (Webb/ Dillmann/Rossiter) +11 laps
6th No37 Jackie Chan (Jaafar/Tan/Jeffri) +13 laps