Toyota says pace during early part of the Le Mans 24 Hours was genuine

Toyota team boss Pascal Vasselon says the pace the TS030 showed as it took the fight to Audi in the first quarter of the Le Mans 24 Hours was absolutely genuine and not a bid for short-term glory in a car that was not likely to make the finish

Toyota says pace during early part of the Le Mans 24 Hours was genuine

With limited time between the approval of the TS030 programme and its race debut at Le Mans - plus the disruption of a massive testing crash - the new Toyota was always thought unlikely to last the full 24 hours, with some of its drivers admitting that qualifying might be their best chance to star.

By Saturday evening the Toyotas were running second and third, with Nicolas Lapierre in the #7 car able to pass Benoit Treluyer's #1 Audi - which would go on to win the race - for the race lead. Vasselon said that was a realistic reflection of the car's pace.

"We were not looking for an aggressive start and leading for 10 minutes," he told AUTOSPORT. "I know some people were expecting us to try to do that at the start, but no.

"The drivers knew they had to be safe at the start, then at the beginning the balance was not perfect. It was changing, the track was changing. We started on a very green track [because of the rain overnight] and it's important to be balanced for when the grip builds up, that was our target.

"So the balance changed quite quickly, the grip increased to the expected level and the pace improved. We saw that Audi's pace was consistent, ours was improving."

The #7 was subsequently delayed when Kazuki Nakajima collided with the DeltaWing, and later retired with engine failure, while the sister #8 car was involved in a horrific accident with Anthony Davidson at the wheel.

Asked if Toyota could have sustained its attack for the whole race, Vasselon replied: "I would say yes because it was not something extraordinary, not a special attack, it was our pace.

"You saw we had two cars running a very similar pace, it was not something really requiring a huge effort.

"When Nico was fighting with Treluyer we were not concerned, it was looking well under control from his side. OK, Benoit was a bit tough, but it was nothing special in terms of car settings."

Vasselon believes the TS030's race debut showed that there are some key areas where it will be able to keep Audi on its toes when their battle resumes over the rest of the World Endurance Championship season.

"I would say we have three strengths in our car," he said.

"The hybrid system has worked consistently well all through qualifying and the race, aero is good, and the biggest benefit in the race is our tyre management.

"The car is very kind on tyres. We went to four stints [on each set of tyres] and that is where we made up the ground."

shares
comments
Buemi: Toyota could have fought on with Audi in Le Mans 24 Hours
Previous article

Buemi: Toyota could have fought on with Audi in Le Mans 24 Hours

Next article

Capello: No hard feelings towards McNish despite Le Mans 24 Hours crash

Capello: No hard feelings towards McNish despite Le Mans 24 Hours crash
Load comments
Why an F1-snubbed British world champion has no regrets in retirement Plus

Why an F1-snubbed British world champion has no regrets in retirement

He may not have won the Le Mans 24 Hours - falling agonisingly short in 2016 - and didn't get the opportunities in Formula 1 his talents merited. But after calling time on his professional career last month, Anthony Davidson says his pride in his performances with Peugeot and Toyota in LMP1 mean more than the results he achieved

WEC
Dec 17, 2021
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

WEC
Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
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