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."

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