Toyota GAZOO racing team earns podium finish in sixth round
2016 FIA World Endurance Championship
Toyota GAZOO Racing earned another podium finish after a strong performance recently in a closely-fought 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas, the sixth round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) held in Austin, Texas, USA.
The #6 TS050 Hybrid of Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi finished third for their fourth podium of 2016, finishing just 26.096 seconds behind the winner after an exciting victory battle between all three LMP1 hybrid manufacturers.
Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the #5 suffered another unfortunate race, with several minor issues combining to keep it out of the podium fight, finishing in fifth.
The race had started promisingly for the #5, when Sebastien moved from sixth on the grid to fourth place during a charging first stint under blazing sunshine and with air temperatures over 35C. Mike took the start in the #6 and ran sixth during the opening stint before handing over to Kamui at the first pit stops. At the same time, great pit work on the #5 allowed Anthony to emerge in third. As darkness fell and the race reached half distance, the #5 lost more time when a damaged front end was changed after Kazuki’s stint, then suffered again soon after when a rear left puncture forced an unplanned pit stop for Sebastien. Stephane took over from Kamui for the final stint in third place. Stephane had fresh tyres and pushed to close the gap, with the race leader also not far away. A fighting performance in the final laps saw the gap close, but second place was just out of reach, with Stephane taking the chequered flag only 2.455 seconds behind the second-placed car and 26.096 seconds behind the winning car. Sebastien brought the #5 home two laps down in fifth.
According to Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, Toyota Motor Corporation, “It was a commendable performance by the Toyota GAZOO Racing team in a competitive race backed by the solid performance of the TS050 Hybrid. It also demonstrates the performance capabilities of our hybrid cars in global racing. At Toyota, we hold a shared belief that participating in motorsports is the key to developing people and making ever-better cars. We sincerely appreciate our customers for supporting our racing initiatives over the years.”
Toshio Sato, Team President, said: “I am pleased with our strong performance here in Austin. We have focused all week on race pace and it paid off today. I am particularly proud of the job done by everyone in the team, especially considering how difficult it has been in this heat. Our quick pit stops and effective strategy helped to achieve a strong result. This has been a good step towards our home race at Fuji Speedway, where we want to give our Japanese fans and colleagues a result to enjoy.”
The Toyota GAZOO Racing team will now travel with optimism to its home race, the 6 Hours of Fuji on 16 October, which takes place just a few kilometres from the Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre where the 1,000hp Toyota Hybrid System-Racing (THS-R) technology is developed and built.