May 13, 2024 13:56 JST

Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

Spa points haul for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

Toyota City, Japan, May 13, 2024 - (JCN Newswire) - TOYOTA GAZOO Racing overcame a challenging and eventful 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps to earn a solid result in the third round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Belgium.

In the last race before the Le Mans 24 Hours, the team battled against contact with other cars, penalties, and a performance deficit to secure points in their World Championship defence thanks to a strong effort from drivers, engineers and mechanics.

World Champions Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, in the #8 GR010 HYBRID, finished sixth. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries followed up their win at Imola with seventh place in their #7 GR010 HYBRID.

Although the result brought an end its seven-race winning streak at Spa, the team remains firmly in World Championship contention, second in the standings, just 23 points behind leaders Porsche going into the double-points Le Mans 24 Hours.

A record 88,100 weekend crowd gathered at Spa on a warm, sunny day for the start as 19 Hypercars battled for position around the first lap, which set the tone for an incident-packed race.

Sébastien lined up a promising sixth but was hit by another car at the first corner and dropped to ninth. He fell further back due to a five-second stop-go penalty for exceeding the permitted energy usage on the formation lap. Mike made progress from 14th to 12th and tried to break into the top 10.

Both cars took fuel only at the first pit stops, helping Mike move up to eighth, and he fought to defend that position under pressure from rivals on fresh tyres, before slipping to 10th. Just after 90 minutes, both cars seized the opportunity of a safety car to pit for new tyres, losing less time than under green flag conditions.

After a long safety car period, Nyck resumed in ninth, and Ryo took over in 11th. The gap to the leading pack was reduced but that time gain was lost for the #7 when it dropped to 15th following a drive-through penalty for a virtual safety car infringement.

Nyck and Ryo drove hard to make up positions going into the second half of the race and joined of a four-car fight for seventh late in the fourth hour. As the battle wore on, Nyck overtook Ryo for fifth, just seconds before an accident elsewhere on track caused a two-hour red flag to repair safety barriers.

Racing resumed with one hour 44 minutes remaining and Kamui briefly ran third after the next round of fuel stops, before losing out to the #50 Ferrari. Going into the last hour, Kamui put pressure on the podium positions from fourth, while Brendon had the top six in his sights.

During the last half hour, Kamui was unable to hang on to fourth as the #51 Ferrari and #99 Porsche made the most of a performance advantage to get past. Kamui was then handed a five-second penalty for contact with a lapped LMGT3 car. That meant, when he crossed the line less than two seconds ahead of Brendon, the #8 GR010 HYBRID was classified sixth, and the #7 seventh.

The team’s focus now switches immediately to the highlight of the WEC season, the Le Mans 24 Hours. The 2024-specification GR010 HYBRIDs will hit the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time on Sunday 9 June at the official test day, before the race itself on 15-16 June.

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7):
“It has been a difficult day. In terms of performance, sixth and seventh is the best we could do. This is the race before Le Mans and it’s one of our home races, so it’s a pity we couldn’t really compete at the front and get a strong result. It’s been a tough event for us but we have to accept it and improve, so that we come back stronger in Le Mans.”

Mike Conway (Driver, car #7):
“It was a bit of a messy race on our car with the penalties. It would have been nice to score more points but in the end, we knew Ferrari and Porsche would be quicker than us. We were struggling with the tyres and couldn’t match that pace. As the track evolved, our pace improved but we were still not quite there. We’ve got to keep pushing for Le Mans.”

Nyck de Vries (Driver, car #7):
“Overall we were not competitive enough this week. I think this result is pretty much the maximum we could achieve as a team from this race, which was a difficult one. Considering everything, we couldn’t do much more today. Of course, we are not satisfied with that situation but that’s how it is, and we did what we could. Hopefully we will be more competitive next time around.”

Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8):
“It was an eventful race once again. I didn’t have such a good start, and I got pushed around badly. We got a penalty before the race even started which was very annoying and we need to get to the bottom if it. After that we worked hard to fight back. The result is not ideal, but we have to live with it. At least we finished with both cars and scored points, but we were hoping for a bit more.”

Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8):
“There was a lot happening in the race and we definitely lacked pace compared to some of our competitors. Unfortunately, the penalty put us on the back foot, but we came back from there and maximised our result. I think sixth is a fair reflection of where our pace was today.”

Ryo Hirakawa (Driver, car #8):
“It was a very long race and it was a tough one for us. Cleary we are not the fastest car at the moment and we have lots to work on before Le Mans because Porsche and Ferrari were clearly quicker. We need to keep improving. As a crew we did everything we could but it’s not nice to finish off the podium. Hopefully at Le Mans we will come back to the top of the podium; we will keep working hard for that.”

6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – Race

1st #12 Hertz Team JOTA (Stevens/Ilott) 141 laps
2nd #6 Porsche Penske (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor) +12.363secs
3rd #50 Ferrari AF Corse (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen) +1min 14.020secs
4th #51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi) +1min 17.710secs
5th #99 Proton Competition (Tinknell/Jani/Andlauer) +1min 26.326secs
6th #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1min 34.955secs
7th #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1min 38.331secs

Source: Toyota Motor Corporation
Sectors: Automotive

Copyright ©2024 JCN Newswire. All rights reserved. A division of Japan Corporate News Network.

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