ROB LAD­BROOK

“Per­haps the uni­verse won’t let Toy­ota win?”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

This gen­uinely could be it, I feel this is the best chance I’ve had to win this race.”

That was what An­thony David­son said to me in the gar­den of a pic­turesque pub in Northamp­ton­shire on a sunny af­ter­noon in 2010.

He’d just signed for Peu­geot Sport to han­dle a 908 HDI FAP LMP1. De­spite the fact the car sounded like a Thun­der­bird (and went like one too), he was right. David­son gen­uinely did have a huge chance of land­ing The Big One.

Hav­ing con­tested Le Mans twice be­fore in a Pro­drive Fer­rari and the truly su­perb (but was never go­ing to win) Dbr9-en­gined Lola-as­ton Martin B09/60, David­son fi­nally had his shot at the top step.

Peu­geot was fastest too, and com­fort­ably out-paced Audi in qual­i­fy­ing to lock out the top four spots on the grid. Sadly just be­ing fast at Le Mans isn’t enough, and none of the four 908s fin­ished after a cock­tail of turbo, sus­pen­sion and electrical prob­lems.

David­son’s car – along with co-driv­ers Alex Wurz and Marc Gene – was the last one run­ning be­fore its al­ter­na­tor packed up, and the best chance so far had gone beg­ging.

Fast for­ward to David­son’s days at Toy­ota, which have yielded more in terms of re­sults, bar­ring the night­mar­ish 2012 cam­paign in which David­son suf­fered back in­juries after an air­borne ac­ci­dent.

In 2013 Toy­ota just didn’t have the out­right pace of Audi, but David­son helped to haul the car to sec­ond place.

Then came the glory days of 2014. “This race has been cruel to me so far, I think it’s pretty fair to say that, and I def­i­nitely feel I’m owed a win at some point,” David­son told me the month be­fore the race, hav­ing won both open­ing rounds of the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship at Sil­ver­stone and Spa.

The time was right, surely? The Toy­ota was by far and away the fastest car, and for once had the re­li­a­bil­ity to match. But once again luck in­ter­vened and David­son’s car was put out of the run­ning early on when Ni­co­las Lapierre crashed in heavy rain. After that though the car ran fault­lessly back to third. Typ­i­cal that.

Toy­ota’s luck in gen­eral was out that year, as the sis­ter car led for nine hours un­til Kazuki Naka­jima crawled to a halt in the early hours of the morn­ing when the wiring loom burnt out. It was a fail­ure Toy­ota had never seen be­fore, and wouldn’t again.

Last year was a write-off. Both Audi and Porsche leapfrogged them by im­prov­ing their hy­brid sys­tems and vir­tu­ally the en­tire year was spent pre­par­ing for last week­end. All that hard work, redesign­ing and per­fect­ing to get back into the game, and Toy­ota came so ag­o­nis­ingly close after so much ef­fort and surely it, and David­son, de­served more. But the wait goes on.

It’s safe to say not many have ex­pe­ri­enced the sort of emo­tional roller­coaster Toy­ota did when Naka­jima again rolled to a halt, this time with just three min­utes to go. Per­haps the uni­verse just won’t let Toy­ota win?

David­son’s tweet said it all: “Kazuki on the ra­dio as he crossed the line ‘I’m ready to cry guys’. Don’t worry mate. I was al­ready there.”

Mo­tor­sport can be a heart­breaker...

“Ev­ery­thing is the same on the car ex­cept for the fact that we have put AP brakes on and my dad [Colin] has built an en­gine on a stan­dard head that puts out 220bhp,” ex­plained the Bil­ler­icay driver.

Mod­i­fied cams and high com­pres­sion pis­tons help to in­crease the power out­put by around 65bhp from Com­pact Cup spec, but Gaz sus­pen­sion re­mains and may be up­graded as de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues.

Voyce plans to cam­paign the car in the 750 Mo­tor Club Hot Hatch or Road­sports se­ries later in the sea­son.

Voyce con­tested Rac­ing Sa­loons cat­e­gory after two years out

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