Fuji WEC is Toyota's 'best, but not only' chance to beat Porsche

This weekend's Fuji round of the World Endurance Championship will be Toyota's "best, but not only chance" to return to the winner's circle this season, according to Anthony Davidson

Fuji WEC is Toyota's 'best, but not only' chance to beat Porsche

Fuji produced Toyota's only WEC victory of 2016, but Davidson reckons that the form the TS050 HYBRIDs showed in last month's Austin round proves the marque can be competitive over the final two rounds of the series in Shanghai and Bahrain next month as well.

"We weren't expected to run Porsche as close as we did at Austin, and tracks like Bahrain and, particularly, Shanghai should be even better for us than Austin," Davidson told Autosport.

"Because of what we saw in Austin, I would say Fuji is not going to our only chance of scoring another victory this year."

Toyota closed a significant performance deficit to the Porsche 919 Hybrids in qualifying in the US WEC round to run them close in the race.

The #8 car shared by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin, who replaced the absent Davidson, finished just 45 seconds down on the winning Porsche shared by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber.

Toyota drivers Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Sarrazin won at Fuji last year on the first occasion over the second half of last season that the high-downforce version of the 2016-spec TS050 showed race-winning form.

That car lacked downforce compared with its rivals from Porsche and Audi, but proved well suited to Fuji with its long start-finish straight.

But Davidson pointed out that Toyota has traditionally performed well on a track on which it has only been beaten once since the rebirth of the WEC in 2012.

"We don't plan it this way, but we always seem to go well at Fuji," he said.

"It's more than just aero levels. It is a very low-grip surface, and maybe we are more reliant on mechanical grip and agility in the slow-speed corners.

"It is quite hard on the tyres as well, and that is a strength of our car and another reason why on race pace in Austin we faired better than our competitor."

Davidson also believes that Toyota will be competitive should the Fuji race include wet-weather running.

"Every time we have seen our car in the wet this year we have been competitive," he explained.

"There is always a high chance it can rain in Fuji and I would feel pretty confident about taking the fight to Porsche if it is a wet race."

A win for lead Toyota trio Buemi, Nakajima and Davidson would keep the title race open beyond Fuji.

Bernhard, Hartley and Bamber lead Buemi and Nakajima by 51 points, which means they only have to finish ahead of the #8 Toyota to seal the title with two races to go.

shares
comments
Toyota vague on when it will announce decision on its WEC future

Previous article

Toyota vague on when it will announce decision on its WEC future

Next article

Fuji WEC: Porsche leads as rain and crash disrupt Friday practice

Fuji WEC: Porsche leads as rain and crash disrupt Friday practice
Load comments
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
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Plus

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness

WEC
Aug 22, 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
Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow Plus

Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow

Many were quick to dismiss Glickenhaus when the boutique American sportscar firm's entry into the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours was announced. It's all-new LMH racer, powered by an engine built by a rally specialist, goes in as the underdog against Toyota but the mathematical odds suggest that it has more than just a faint hope of success

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
The Asian underdog taking on the mighty GT factories at Le Mans Plus

The Asian underdog taking on the mighty GT factories at Le Mans

The rising HubAuto team steps up to GTE Pro at Le Mans this year for an ambitious bid to take on the three works giants – and has every reason to be optimistic of achieving its goal in becoming the first privateer on the podium since 2016

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car Plus

How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car

The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and were considered heavy favourites to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen

Le Mans
Aug 14, 2021
Why Argentina’s current great isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio Plus

Why Argentina’s current great isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio

Having twice missed out on Formula 1 and reinvented himself as a touring car driver, Jose Maria Lopez has had a rocky ride to becoming a four-time world champion. One more would put him level with his nation's favourite son, but there's another prize he would value far more than the honour of matching Juan Manuel Fangio's tally

WEC
Aug 14, 2021