Toyota Racing were left with a lot of work to do after both of their LMP1 cars finished the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans in sixth and eighth positions respectively, behind their Porsche and Audi rivals, but with a fully reliable 24 hour race now under their belt. The No.2 TS040 HYBRID of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway finished ahead of the sister LMP1 No.1 car driven by 2014 FIA World Endurance champions Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
However, despite both cars running reliably to the finish and finding over a second in pace from the 2014 edition of the race, the Japanese squad could not match the pace of its german rivals Audi and Porsche in both qualifying and the race. This has meant the team has not met the target originally set of taking overall victory in the French classic.
The squad only suffered one setback during the race, when Anthony Davidson clashed with a GTE car which called for the No.1 TS040 machine to return to the pits for repairs needed to the front and rear bodywork and the suspension after a further accident. However it soon returned to the track and got back up to racing speed, falling behind the No.2 car in the process.
2014 Champion Anthony Davidson is already looking to fight back in next years race: “It’s obviously disappointing not to make the podium this season at Le Mans. We were up against strong competition and we knew it would be harder this year but it’s proven to be much more difficult than we imagined. We have to stick together, push together and come back stronger. I am immediately thinking about next year’s Le Mans. I will put this one aside and look forward.”
Sebastian Buemi was gracious in defeat: “I am obviously disappointed with the result and the race as a whole. We had great reliability with no technical issues and the team did a great job in the pit stops, as well as getting the car on track again after the accident. In the end I think we finished where we deserved to, based on our pace. Congratulations to Porsche, they deserved their win.”
Kazuki Nakajima is looking to push hard for victory in next year’s race: “It was a hard race for us. This race is always very difficult but it’s tough to see Porsche making it look it easy. We did our race and the set-up of the car was very good, we were just missing some speed. The mentality of the team was very strong and we fought to the end; that was quite positive. I hope this hard time will be the kick-off point for next year. We have to push hard.”
Alex Wurz says that the challenge ahead to fight back will require some homework: “We had a race without problems, we only stopped for fuel and tyres but we were several laps down so we have clear homework to do. The direction in which we have to improve is also clear and we have a whole year to do that. Overall I am disappointed but looking specifically at our race on #2, it was okay; we controlled everything once we saw the position we were in and it worked well.”
With the reliability in place, Stephane Sarrazin is aiming for the top step next year: “It was really a difficult race for all of us, the whole team. We didn’t have the pace so we know what we have to improve. We showed that the car is very reliable; we had no issue with both cars and our crew performed really well so these are the positive points. Well done to Porsche and Audi, they did a brilliant job and that gives us a lot of motivation to come back next year aiming for the top.”
Mike Conway takes experience away from this year’s race: “It was my first Le Mans in LMP1 and with Toyota I learned a lot. We just hung in there and tried to make no mistakes. We were in our own race really. We kept pushing, then towards the end the third Audi came into play. That was more exciting because we had to push hard to keep a good gap. At the same time Kazuki was in front of me, so it made it interesting to battle a bit with lap times. Congratulations to Porsche for their achievement.”