Race to Forget for Toyota Gazoo Racing
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing experienced a frustrating afternoon at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring, the fourth round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Hopes were high following strong performances at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, but those were dashed when the TS050 HYBRIDs lost time early in the race due to a tyre compound which was not ideal for the track temperatures.
The #5 car of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima finished fifth, one lap behind the winning Porsche #1. Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi suffered a technical problem on their way to sixth in the #6.
That meant a disappointing debut for the ultra-high-downforce aerodynamic package which has been developed for the remaining WEC races, although competitive lap times later in the race offered some encouragement.
A crowd of 58,000 (weekend figure) watched Kazuki and Mike take the start from the third row on tyres intended for higher track temperatures. Compounds for the first stint must be chosen before qualifying, and the race-day track temperatures proved lower than expected.
While Audi and Porsche fought out a close battle at the front, the TOYOTAs were in a relatively lonely race. After 90 minutes the gap between Sébastien in the fifth-placed #5 was over 40 seconds to the race leader, with the #6 in sixth.
Therefore the team decided to swap tyre compounds on both cars. This improved the situation and brought performance back to a more competitive level, although by that time the leading group was out of reach.
TOYOTA’s challenge was further hampered shortly before the halfway point, when Anthony was forced to pit early for a front end change following contact with a slower car. This dropped the #5 behind its sister car.
The middle section of the race was punctuated by several full course yellows but the TS050 HYBRIDs were running well until the #6 needed five minutes of repairs in the garage. From that point, the target was to reach the chequered flag without further incident, which was achieved.
The WEC season now moves outside of Europe for the first time in 2016 for the fifth round of the season, the inaugural 6 Hours of Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on 3 September.
Toshio Sato, Team President: “Congratulations to Porsche on a hard-fought victory. The battle at the front was very exciting but unfortunately we were not part of it. It was a tough day for us and we were not competitive enough at the beginning of the race. Things improved later, when we switched tyre compounds, and this showed more of the new package’s potential but it was too late. We will work hard to improve and come back stronger for the overseas races.”