The driver line-up of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima in the #7 TS030 HYBRID made full use of a reliable and fast car to challenge at the front throughout an exciting race.
Alex, fastest in the morning warm-up, took the rolling start from third position but immediately fought his way into second when the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing delivered a decisive power boost as the green flag waved.
Just 21 minutes into the race he went one better, taking the lead with a bold move in traffic. He handed over to Kazuki with the TS030 HYBRID firmly in the fight for victory.
Kazuki delivered a strong stint, interrupted by a safety car period around the two-hour mark.
The battle at the front with the #1 Audi grew in intensity and, as the halfway point approached, Kazuki was briefly overtaken before instantly retaking the advantage one corner later.
Nico took over soon after and kept up the fight, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 139 before handing over the #7 TS030 HYBRID to Alex for a final stint of just under two hours.
Alex put in a series of fast laps to build a cushion over the third place car, allowing him to make a final short pit stop for fuel and rejoin in second with less than 30 minutes remaining.
No further trouble meant he crossed the line 55.675secs behind the leader to take a deserved first podium finish – and WEC points – for the team.
TOYOTA Racing’s next action comes at Interlagos in Brazil for the WEC Six Hours of Sao Paulo on 15 September when Alex and Nicolas will be driving.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Warm-up: 1st (1min 47.398secs), 4 laps
Race: 2nd (+55.675secs) , 194 laps, 8 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 44.059secs
Alex Wurz: “To get second place is a great result. This is only our second race, eight months after our first roll-out and we are fighting against a competitor who has more than a decade of experience. We have to optimize everything to win but it is fantastic to motivate even more our team. We have shown a really good pace and demonstrated the performance of our hybrid technology.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “Of course I am pleased with this result and proud to take the first podium of the team in the WEC. My double stint was not easy; I was unlucky in the traffic. We had a really good pace today, with a car that delivered what we expected with our new aerodynamic package. We were consistent and clearly on the pace of our competitors. Our fastest lap shows our potential and we hope to win a race before the end of the season. I think we can make it; this will be the target.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “I am really happy with this result even if we all want to make one more step higher on the podium. We had a good fight with our competitors and it was really nice to have this battle with Benoît Treluyer. I think everybody saw how well our TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing is working. Despite a lot of traffic I had a good stint and the car was nice balanced. It was important for us to have a clean race and to achieve our first podium. We have some progress to make but we are ready for the next step.”
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “I am happy with this result. Not only did we prove the speed of the TS030 HYBRID by setting the fastest lap of the race and finishing on the podium in just our second race, we also had a completely trouble-free race. This is a credit to everyone here at the track but also those back at TMG, at Motor Sport Division in Higashifuji and TMC’s Hybrid Division. The drivers pushed hard throughout and gave the fans a really exciting race. Of course, we always dream about the top step of the podium but Audi got there before us this time. So congratulations to them; we’re looking forward to competing with them again in Brazil.”