Toyota's Kobayashi slams WEC LMP1 handicaps after "joke" Austin race

Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi has urged the World Endurance Championship to rethink its LMP1 success handicap system after a "joke" of a race at Austin

Toyota's Kobayashi slams WEC LMP1 handicaps after "joke" Austin race

Last Sunday's race at Austin was notable for its sparse LMP1 field, with the solo Rebellion-Gibson R-13 enjoying a clear advantage over both Toyota TS050 HYBRIDS and securing an easy second win of the 2019-20 season.

The slower championship-leading #7 Toyota, which Kobayashi shares with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, was powerless to challenge the sister #8 car owing to its larger Equivalence of Technology penalty, worth approximately half a second a lap.

After the #7 finished two laps down on its class opposition, Kobayashi warned that the WEC will struggle to maintain fan interest without making changes.

"I don't understand," he told Autosport.

"They say it's a handicap, but it decides who is going to win.

"We knew before coming into the race. It's the worst race I ever had.

"If we keep this EoT, nobody will come to these races.

The improbable Austin comeback that upstaged LMP1

"This is meant to be [high] technology racing. Nobody gets excited with the EoT stuff. As soon as you see our car, everybody says it's looks slow.

"What does the spectator think? It looks really stupid.

"I don't care if we are slow, but we need to take a broader view and [ask ourselves] why people get excited about this championship. It's definitely a stupid idea.

"Rebellion won the race, but they probably don't feel really happy. Who is happy in the end? Nobody.

"Everybody travels home feeling frustrated. It's a bit of a joke."

Kobayashi, part of the race-winning Wayne Taylor Racing line-up at last month's Daytona 24 Hours, compared the EoT situation with that of the IMSA SportsCar Championship's DPi class, which features close competition between three brands.

"I have to say IMSA does a really good job," said Kobayashi.

"When I was there [in Daytona], I enjoyed it. There was good competition; the point is they try to make close gaps.

"But the problem [in WEC] is the concept of the car is so far, between our car and the Rebellion, it's impossible.

"We are here for entertaining people, either people who are coming here or watching on the TV.

"If you are watching on TV, after half an hour I'm sure people are turning off the TV for this boring race."

Conway admitted the Austin race was among the most frustrating he has experienced, and fears next month's Sebring 1000 Miles will be similar.

He said the #7 crew's five-point advantage in the standings is likely to again make it impossible for he and his team-mates to challenge the sister Toyota.

"When it's a couple of tenths a lap, you think maybe you can overhaul it," said Conway.

"But here there was just no chance, whatever we did we couldn't get around it.

"Now going to Sebring we still have a deficit. We needed the #8 to win really to reset things more.

"We saw two points at Bahrain was worth two or three tenths a lap. I'm sure [an advantage of five points before] Sebring will be worth five tenths at least."

shares
comments
Corvette needs Sebring BoP exemption to challenge WEC GTE Pro rivals
Previous article

Corvette needs Sebring BoP exemption to challenge WEC GTE Pro rivals

Next article

The improbable Austin comeback that upstaged LMP1

The improbable Austin comeback that upstaged LMP1
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Plus

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Autosport hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022
The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory Plus

The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory

Peugeot went radical with the initial plan for its Le Mans Hypercar project, and then stuck to its guns. Here’s how things are shaping up a few weeks before the debut of the 9X8 in next month's Monza World Endurance Championship round

WEC
Jun 1, 2022
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Plus

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

WEC
May 9, 2022
The Chinese sportscar protege targeting a path to the top with Porsche Plus

The Chinese sportscar protege targeting a path to the top with Porsche

Yifei Ye came within one lap of winning the LMP2 class on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut last year, and his eye-catching 2021 has gained Porsche’s interest. With the German manufacturer preparing for a return to the top tier, the Chinese youngster is on the path to join it

WEC
Apr 14, 2022
How WEC got off to a stormy start in 2022 as rulemakers dampen Toyota's dominance Plus

How WEC got off to a stormy start in 2022 as rulemakers dampen Toyota's dominance

Toyota’s stranglehold on the World Endurance Championship ended at the 2022 opener at Sebring, but all accusing eyes were on the Balance of Performance system as the key to the shake-up. Here's how it unfolded, to see Alpine celebrating under a stormy sky having blown away the defending champions

WEC
Mar 21, 2022
Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year Plus

Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year

Team Penske is gearing up for its role in running Porsche’s LMDh programme from 2023 by entering this year's World Endurance Championship with an LMP2 car. Although the team is considering 2022 as a season to learn, it is no less serious about winning than ever - which should make the already fiercely competitive class even more so

WEC
Mar 17, 2022