Toyota Racing Scores Thrilling Home Victory At Fuji

15 October 2012

True to the saying “there’s no place like home”, Toyota Racing secured its second victory of the season in the penultimate round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship at the Fuji circuit in Japan yesterday (14 October). The emphatic win for the No7 TS030 Hybrid adds to the team’s superb performance in its debut season, having won at Sao Paolo last month and delivered a race-leading performance at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Driven by Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima, the Toyota topped the time sheets in all official practice sessions and went on to post the fastest lap during the six-hour race.

Victory by 11.223 seconds gave Nakajima the honour of becoming the first Japanese winner of an FIA championship race since 1992, when Hitoshi Ogawa won a World Sports car Championship race in the Toyota TS010 at Monza.

Celebrating the result, Nakajima said: “To win a world championship race as a driver has been my aim for my whole career so it is a great day. The crowd was fantastic; it was great to see so many Toyota flags in the grandstands. I was so excited in the last few laps. I was getting the message from my engineer to push hard because I had to make a gap for our last pit stop, so it was quite challenging. I was pushing like crazy and finally we just made it.”

A close contest with the leading Audi was only settled in Toyota’s favour late in the race, sealing an emotional win on the doorstep of the Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre, where Toyota’s racing hybrid system has been developed.

Wurz gave Toyota the lead from the team’s second pole position of the season, holding the field at bay through turn one. Making good use of the 300hp boost available from the hybrid engine, he set about pulling away from the pack. A close fight with the No1 Audi ensued through the first round of pit stops. Lapierre took the wheel in the lead, but the Audi was able to take advantage when he ran wide in traffic.

Taking a second stint on the same tyres helped Lapierre regain the lead and he continued to half-distance before handing over to Nakajima. A period behind the safety car created a clear track ahead of the Toyota and the Japanese driver took full advantage of this opportunity, posting a series of fastest laps. He maintained a blistering pace and completed a marathon triple stint of almost three hours to take the chequered flag in first place.

The drivers were joined on the podium by Takeshi Uchiyamada,Toyota’s Vice-Chairman and the man responsible for the Toyota Prius.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President, said: “Since the beginning of this programme, I have looked forward to the Six Hours of Fuji and always I targeted victory. To have such an exciting race and win in front of our home fans is a very special feeling. The whole team performed really well and stayed focused despite the extra pressure of it being our home race.

The eighth and final round of the championship will take place at Shanghai on 28 October, where driving duties will be shared by Wurz and Lapierre, with Nakajima committed to a Super GT race in Japan.


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Toyota Racing Scores Thrilling Home Victory At Fuji


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