TOY­OTA GAZOO rac­ing earns first ever podium fin­ish at Nur­bur­gring

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

TOKYO: TOY­OTA GAZOO Rac­ing took its firstever podium in the 6 Hours of Nu¸rbur­gring in a chal­leng­ing fourth round of the 2017 FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship (WEC). The pole po­si­tion-win­ning #7 TS050 Hy­brid of Mike Con­way, Ka­mui Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez claimed the third po­si­tion af­ter lead­ing the early stages and set­ting the fastest lap of the race. The #8 car of Se­bastien Buemi, An­thony David­son, and Kazuki Naka­jima fin­ished fourth in the race.

“We are de­lighted to have se­cured a podium fin­ish at the 6 Hours of Nur­bur­gring, and I would like to con­grat­u­late the driv­ers, engi­neers, and sup­port staff for putting on a good race, “said Takayuki Yoshit­sugu, Chief Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Mid­dle East and North Africa Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice, Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion. “At Toy­ota, we hold a shared be­lief that par­tic­i­pat­ing in rac­ing events like the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship, which put our peo­ple and cars to the ul­ti­mate test, is key to de­vel­op­ing our hu­man re­sources and mak­ing ‘ever-bet­ter cars’. We deeply ap­pre­ci­ate the sup­port we have re­ceived from our fans, and we look for­ward to en­joy­ing their con­tin­ued back­ing through the rest of the sea­son.”

On this oc­ca­sion, Toshio Sato, Team Pres­i­dent, said, “Nur­bur­gring has again been a chal­leng­ing race for us. We showed good onelap speed, and we en­joyed the close fight with the race win­ner, but the car bal­ance changed dur­ing the race, and this means we lost some per­for­mance. To­day’s race was re­ally a dam­age lim­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise in terms of the World Cham­pi­onship. We be­lieve we will be stronger dur­ing the rest of the sea­son in North Amer­ica and Asia, when the tar­get will be to close the gap and fight for the World Cham­pi­onship.”

Af­ter light rain in the morn­ing, the fourth of nine cham­pi­onship rounds was held in dry con­di­tions. The race be­gan in the worst pos­si­ble way for car #8 when a fuel pump prob­lem pre­vented Se­bastien tak­ing the start nor­mally. Af­ter a very slow for­ma­tion lap, he was forced to pit to fit a new fuel pump, los­ing eight min­utes and five laps.

While Ka­mui led the open­ing stages in the #7 from pole po­si­tion, Se­bastien be­gan the #8 car’s fight back. The bat­tle for the lead was en­thralling, with Ka­mui keep­ing the two com­peti­tor cars be­hind dur­ing the first hour be­fore hand­ing over to Jose Maria at the first pit stops.

Af­ter 80 min­utes of fierce rac­ing, the #7 dropped to third place, but Jose Maria fought back and kept the pres­sure on. At the start of his sec­ond stint, with two hours com­pleted, he was within two sec­onds of the race leader. How­ever, as the race wore on, a change of aero­dy­namic per­for­mance neg­a­tively af­fected both cars. With lit­tle re­al­is­tic prospect of a change of po­si­tions, the two TS050 hy­brids fo­cused on com­plet­ing a clean race to se­cure the valu­able World Cham­pi­onship points.

Ka­mui took the che­quered flag for the #7 car in third, earn­ing the team’s fourth podium of the sea­son, 1min 4.768secs be­hind the win­ner. Af­ter a fight­ing drive back to fourth, Kazuki fin­ished the race for the #8 car five laps down. That re­sult means Toy­ota stays in the fight for the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ World Cham­pi­onship. The #8 crew lead the chal­lenge in the driv­ers’ stand­ings and are now 30 points away from the lead­ers.

The Nur­bur­gring race marked the end of the Euro­pean leg of the WEC sea­son, with the teams head­ing to North Amer­ica next for races in Mex­ico City (Septem­ber 3th) and Austin (Septem­ber 16th), prior to the fi­nal three races of 2017, which will take place in Asia.

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