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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Toyota in "tough situation" ahead of Le Mans

Toyota is in a “tough situation in terms of performance” as it heads into Le Mans 24 Hours week, according to team principal Kamui Kobayashi. 

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

The driver of the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID made the comment after the Japanese manufacturer could do no better than third across the two sessions of Sunday’s official test for the double-points round of the World Endurance Championship next weekend.  

Kobayashi talked without reference to the Balance of Performance changes made in the WEC’S Hypercar class last week, which raised the minimum weight of the GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar by 37kg.

Nor did he elaborate on his comment, except to say ”that we need to keep working”.

Team-mate Mike Conway added that there is “still lap time to find” after Toyota ended up fifth and third in the pair of three-hour sessions of the Test Day on the full 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

The #7 entry Kobayashi and Conway share with Jose Maria Lopez was 1.1s and then 0.3s shy of Ferrari, which topped both sessions with its 499P LMH. 

Toyota ended up behind Ferrari, Peugeot and Porsche in the opening test period and behind Ferrari and Porsche in the second.

The #8 Toyota took eighth and ninth positions in the morning and afternoon respectively. 

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

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

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

The test was described as “not our best day” by Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical boss Pascal Vasselon. 

Asked to expand on that, he replied: “Just look at the lap times, and I’m sure you will have an idea.”

 He also didn’t mention the BoP, only saying the lack of pace was “not a surprise”. 

Finding the missing pace was, he said, “our job and we will just get on with it”. 

“We have a full truck of engineers to keep looking for lap time,” he added.

Vasselon revealed that Conway’s crash at Tertre Rouge right at the end of the morning session had a negligible effect on Toyota’s testing programme over the day.

The car sustained body damage only and was ready to run at the beginning of the afternoon period. 

He expressed more concern about the lack of pace of the #8 car in which Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa did the majority of the running because Sebastien Buemi’s was in Jakarta for Formula E.

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“We had more issues with #8, which was even slower than #7 and [the lack of pace] is not fully understood,” said Vasselon. 

Kazuki Nakajima, who is acting as Toyota’s WEC reserve this season more than a year after retiring from the cockpit, completed six in-and-out laps in the car in the morning.

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