Lopez: Final hours of #7 Toyota Le Mans win "very stressful" with fuel woes

Jose Maria Lopez admitted the final hours of his maiden Le Mans 24 Hours victory were "very stressful" as the Toyota crew battled fuel issues.

Lopez: Final hours of #7 Toyota Le Mans win "very stressful" with fuel woes

Toyota scored its fourth consecutive win at the Circuit de la Sarthe, the first of the new Hypercar era, with Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi taking the win ahead of the #8 sister car and the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson.

It was a hugely emotional win as the past three editions were won by Toyota's #8 crew, while several issues denied the #7 trio each year.

Kobayashi and Conway could also have won the race in 2017, when they famously suffered a burnt-out clutch in a pitlane misunderstanding.

PLUS: Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

Lopez said the final few hours, when the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID began suffering similar fuel pickup issues that had plagued the #8 sister car, were particularly stressful despite the leaders' comfortable gap.

"We've come from far away from here," he told Eurosport. "Tough times, I haven't seen my father for a long time, a lot of work.

"And when you suffer like we suffered in the years before I think it's special. First one is always very special.

"At the end, when we had this fuel problem, we had to do a lot of things in the car. It was very stressful."

Following years of frustration and heartbreak all three drivers were very moved after finally breaking their Le Mans curse.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid Hypercar, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid Hypercar, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

"We came close so many times, and to get it done here with the new hypercar as well with these boys... team-mates did a stellar job as always," Conway said.

"Full circuit, a lot of emotions. I was crying like a little girl.

"It's a bit of everything, you work so hard for it each year you forget how hard it is."

Kobayashi, who received the honour of bringing the car to the chequered flag in an orchestrated formation finish, said the #7 crew's Le Mans misses had made Toyota stronger as a unit.

"We had so many chances to win, and we lost, but finally we won," he added.

"I think we are more together as a team [than before], we can't do anything special at Le Mans, but we believe in each other as a team. 

"I think we are stronger as a team, I think this why we made it this time."

With much sterner, factory opposition on the way in the new Hypercar class after several transitional years, Kobayashi is looking forward to Toyota's battle against the likes of Peugeot, Ferrari, Audi and Porsche in the future.

"In the future, the Hypercar and LMDh category will be big, and Le Mans will be a huge race," he explained.

"I'm looking forward to fighting with them."

Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi have also taken over the lead in the world championship with two rounds in Bahrain remaining.

shares
comments

Related video

Le Mans 24h: #7 Toyota takes historic win with new Hypercar

Previous article

Le Mans 24h: #7 Toyota takes historic win with new Hypercar

Next article

Buemi explains how #8 Toyota was “quite lucky” in Le Mans 24h start clash

Buemi explains how #8 Toyota was “quite lucky” in Le Mans 24h start clash
Load comments
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Plus

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
10 things we've learned from the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours so far Plus

10 things we've learned from the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Autosport picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team by team guide Plus

Le Mans 2021: The team by team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in Le Mans' underrated class Plus

The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in Le Mans' underrated class

Kevin Magnussen will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend alongside father Jan in LMP2. But the Danes won't be the only ex-F1 drivers to appear in the hotly contested category this year.

Le Mans
Aug 20, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Plus

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload Plus

How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload

The 23-car GTE Am field promises to be one of the most open in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with the added jeopardy of managing the enthusiasm of amateur drivers to boot, as Absolute Racing Porsche driver Marco Seefried explains

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021