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WEC Monza

Toyota “looking over its shoulder” in WEC title fight

Toyota is “looking over its shoulder” as it defends a 25-point lead in the World Endurance Championship heading into the final three races, according to Brendon Hartley.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

The New Zealander believes he and team-mates Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa will face a strong challenge from Le Mans 24 Hours winners Ferrari for the title starting at the Monza 6 Hours this weekend, even though their points lead is the equivalent to a victory in a regular six-hour WEC round.

“We look strong in the championship because we are 25 points ahead, but we’re definitely looking over our shoulder, and not just at the guys in red,” Hartley told Autosport.

“The #51 Ferrari [driven by Antonio Giovinazzi, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado] is closest to use on points and they will be throwing everything at it.

“But I’m not counting out Cadillac or Porsche, and if there is some tricky weather, Peugeot as well.

“We’re leading the points, but we’ve definitely got a big fight on our hands - it’s gloves off.”

Hartley stressed the importance of finishing each of the three remaining races — at Monza, then Fuji in September and November’s Bahrain curtain closer — aboard their Toyota GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar, because “one DNF can change the whole game”.

Toyota, which also leads the manufacturers’ points from Ferrari, is beginning the post-Le Mans leg of the WEC “with quiet confidence”, according to Hartley.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: Nikolaz Godet

But he is predicting that Ferrari 499P will be strong on home ground at Monza.

“I fully expect it to be a tough race in Monza; Ferrari showed the best straightline speed at Le Mans and going to the Temple of Speed that will be good for them.

“Our job is to put everything together, maximise our potential and try to win a world championship.

“Le Mans is behind us and we’re already looking at next year, but the world championship is important as well.

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“It’s easy to forget that sometimes because Le Mans is such a big race and we all care about it so much, but not everyone gets to call themselves a world champion.”

Practice for the Monza 6 Hours, round five of the 2023 WEC, begins on Friday, 7 July, at 11:30 local time.

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