In just their third race the Toyota Racing team scored their first victory, Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre scoring a dominant win at the Six Hours of Sao Paulo.
After Wurz topped the qualifying session Nicolas Lapierre started the #7 TS030 Hybrid from pole position, taking the lead at the rolling start and pulling away from the two Audi R18 providing the main opposition to the pairing.
“This is a fantastic win for all the team,” Lapierre assessed. “Since the beginning, we know we have a fast car. After leading at Le Mans we had to work on the reliability. After the podium at Silverstone we had to improve our fuel consumption. We made it. All the team has worked really well since the beginning of the project and this weekend also. Alex did a wonderful job in qualifying to get the pole and during the race we managed the tyres well. The car was handling very well throughout the whole day and the hybrid system gave us again an incredible performance. It is simply wonderful!”
The journey to the victory was aided by a mid race safety car for an LMP2 car stranded out on track, the FIA World Endurance Championship’s two safety car set up splitting the Toyota up from the Audis increasing Wurz’s lead from 20 seconds to over 40, helping him to a healthy advantage.
The Toyota’s relentless pace continued, further extending the lead until a pass at turn one moved the Toyota onto the lead lap alone, also cementing the victory. The single complication in the team’s race was a splash and dash pitstop five minutes from the end, however the stop only allowed the Audis back onto the lead lap, Wurz crossing the line with an advantage of a minutes over the best of the R18s.
“What we have achieved here today is really remarkable,” said technical director Pascal Vasselon. “It was an emotional moment to see a TOYOTA crossing the line in P1. The whole team, here at the track and back at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, plus our colleagues in Japan, have given so much to this project. They deserve this success. The race itself went exactly to plan; compared to Silverstone we have been able to manage our fuel consumption much better, which was made easier by our quick pace. Both Alex and Nicolas drove fantastically; they were extremely fast and also very impressive through the traffic. A big thank you also to our pit crew, who delivered seven great pit stops. We will enjoy this success and come back more motivated than ever in Bahrain.”
Team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said; “this is an incredible day for all of us in the team. To stand on the top step of the podium has been our dream and to achieve this is only our third race is a dream come true. This has been more than a six-hour race because this started for us in January and finishes now in September with our team on the top step of the podium. Thanks to everyone involved in this project; so much hard work has gone into this and victory makes it all worthwhile.”
“Thanks also to Audi for a clean fight; we really enjoyed competing with them and they were very fair. We have huge respect for them and what they have achieved over the past decade and more; to beat such a strong opponent has not been easy. It’s not only a fantastic result for TOYOTA Racing, it also shows how exciting the FIA World Endurance Championship is. We know Audi will come back strongly in the next races so we are looking forward to continuing our close, and genuinely friendly, rivalry.”