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Toyota not “getting over excited” over WEC Imola triumph

Toyota is not “getting over excited” over the competitiveness of its GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar in the World Endurance Championship after victory at Imola on Sunday.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

David Floury, technical director at Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe, made the claim after Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries and Mike Conway took victory in the Imola 6 Hours after Ferrari made two key strategic errors.

“I don’t think we should be over excited because it was a race decided on a tyre call, not on pure pace,” he said.

“If you look at pure pace on fastest lap time, Ferrari is four tenths faster than us.

“We won without being fastest, so it was won on strategy and team execution.”

He added that the lack of pace of the GR010 in comparison with Ferrari’s 499P LMH was “not something we are happy with”.

Floury paid tribute to Kobayashi’s drive over the final two hours to seal the victory when rain started to fall.

The Japanese driver, who is also team principal of the TGR WEC squad, had to go into extreme fuel-save mode over his final stint to avoid the need for a late splash-and-dash stop at the same time as fending off a challenge from the factory Porsche 963 LMDh with Kevin Estre at the wheel.

“When we started the final stint we were scratching our heads a bit, wondering how we were going to manage it,” explained Floury.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

“Kamui did a fantastic job saving energy while staying in front.

“We did the job today: the team did the perfect execution and Kamui was brilliant at the end.”

Ferrari was in the ascendency for nearly four hours in Sunday’s race before delaying the change from slicks to wet-weather tyres on both factory cars and the customer or satellite AF Corse entry when it started to rain.

The Italian manufacturer admitted to making tactical mistakes after the race, saying that it misinterpreted its weather forecast.

It also revealed that a plan to split its strategies on the two factory cars was not executed as a result of what it described as a communication problem.

The victory for Toyota on Sunday follows a disappointing performance in the Qatar 1812Km WEC season-opener in March, in which it scored a best result of fifth, a lap in arrears of the winning Porsche Penske Motorsport entry.

A Balance of Performance change helped shake up the order at Imola, although Floury hinted that he believes that the playing field has yet to be fully levelled in the Hypercar class yet.

He talked about the discrepancies in straightline speed between the cars after both qualifying and the race.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P Hypercar of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P Hypercar of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Floury described the 5-6km/h difference in top speeds between the 499P and the GR010 as “big in a BoP world” after qualifying and then suggested that Ferrari was “out of sight” post-race.

A new component in the BoP known as “power gain” is set for introduction in the Hypercar class of the WEC this year with the aim of levelling the performance profiles of the cars down the straights.

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A plus or minus figure will be applied to the maximum power figure for each car above 210km/h (130mph) to more accurately match their acceleration and top speeds.

The system was trialled by some manufacturers during the pre-Qatar Prologue test and had looked set for an Imola introduction.

The FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which jointly run the WEC, have yet to reveal to the manufacturers when it will be introduced.

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