Dou­ble podium for Toy­ota GAZOO Rac­ing at 6 Hours of Shang­hai

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Toy­ota GAZOO Rac­ing re­turned to the podium with sec­ond and third-place fin­ishes in the 6 Hours of Shang­hai, the penul­ti­mate race of the 2016 FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship (WEC) sea­son.

The #6 Toy­ota TS050 Hy­brid driven by Stephane Sar­razin, Mike Con­way and Ka­mui Kobayashi re­cov­ered from the mis­for­tune of two tire punc­tures to earn sec­ond place and their fourth con­sec­u­tive podium fin­ish. That re­sult keeps them in the fight for the driv­ers’ World Cham­pi­onship, hav­ing closed the gap to top spot to 17 points, with 26 still to fight for in the fi­nal race, in Bahrain on Novem­ber 19.

Third place for An­thony David­son, Se­bastien Buemi and Kazuki Naka­jima, their first podium ofthe sea­son, keeps the team in the fight for run­ners-up in the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ cham­pi­onship.

Takayuki Yoshit­sugu, Chief Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Mid­dle East and North Africa Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice, Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion, com­mented, “It was a tough race, but both cars per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally well un­der chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances to bring home a dou­ble podium fin­ish for the team. The stage is now set for an ex­cit­ing fi­nale in Bahrain. The ex­pe­ri­ence gained from our mul­ti­ple par­tic­i­pa­tions in the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship will greatly en­rich Toy­ota’s fu­ture ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment as we con­tinue our pur­suit of cre­at­ing ‘ever-bet­ter’ cars. As usual, the fans were ex­cel­lent, and we are count­ing on their con­tin­ued sup­port as the ac­tion shifts to the fi­nal round in Bahrain.”

Toshio Sato, Team Pres­i­dent, said, “We are pleased to have both cars on the podium for the first time this sea­son, de­spite some bad luck. Just like in the last three races, we have again seen an in­cred­i­bly close fight with very lit­tle sep­a­rat­ing the three LMP1 man­u­fac­tur­ers. This shows how high the level of com­pe­ti­tion is in WEC, and I think the many fans here in Shang­hai en­joyed this spec­ta­cle. Now we have a short time to pre­pare for the last race in Bahrain when we ex­pect to be again com­pet­i­tive; we want to main­tain our strong per­for­mance and fight for the win again.”

When the race be­gan on a sunny Shang­hai day, Se­bas­tian was at the wheel of the #5 Toy­ota for the team’s first front-row start of 2016, and he led briefly on the first lap be­fore drop­ping to fifth, with Mike run­ning fourth in the #6 Toy­ota in the open­ing laps. An un­sched­uled stop around the 90-minute mark for the #8, one of the com­peti­tors’ ve­hi­cles, lifted the #6 Toy­ota into third place, with its sis­ter car still just be­hind in fourth and both Toy­ota TS050 Hy­brids push­ing hard at the front.

The sit­u­a­tion re­mained like that through two driver changes for both cars un­til, with two-and-a-half hours gone, Ka­mui passed the com­peti­tor’s ve­hi­cle #2 for sec­ond fol­low­ing an ex­cit­ing three-lap duel. That pat­tern was re­peated with the #5 Toy­ota soon af­ter when Se­bastien took over the fight shortly be­fore the half­way point, closed up to the com­peti­tor’s ve­hi­cle #2 and took third. How­ever, dur­ing the next round of pit stops, he dropped be­hind again.

More po­si­tion changes fol­lowed soon af­ter that, when a rear-left tire punc­ture on the #6 Toy­ota forced an un­planned pit stop and dropped Mike to fourth, with the #5 Toy­ota mov­ing into the podium po­si­tions. Frus­trat­ingly, mis­for­tune again struck the #6 Toy­ota when an­other punc­ture forced an early pit stop with 80 min­utes to go. Ka­mui be­gan a charg­ing re­cov­ery drive, over­tak­ing the #5 Toy­ota for third and then, with 45 min­utes re­main­ing, tak­ing sec­ond from the com­peti­tor’s ve­hi­cle #2.

At the fi­nal pit stops, An­thony emerged ahead of the com­peti­tor’s ve­hi­cle #2, bring­ing the #5 Toy­ota back into the podium po­si­tions while, af­ter the two punc­tures, Ka­mui was too far be­hind the race leader to mount an at­tack. As the sun set, Ka­mui took the che­quered flag in sec­ond, 59.785 sec­onds be­hind the win­ning #1 car. An­thony fol­lowed 6.253 sec­onds later to se­cure Toy­ota’s first dou­ble podium since Shang­hai in 2014.

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