TOYOTA GAZOO Racing finished fifth and sixth in the Six Hours of Nürburgring as the 2015 World Endurance Championship reached its halfway point in Germany today.
The fourth race of the season took place just 90km south of the team’s Cologne base in front of a big crowd – 62,000 over the weekend – at the Nürburgring, hosting LMP1 racing for the first time since 2009.
Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, in the #1, were the leading TS040 HYBRID in fifth position, with #2 of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway finishing sixth.
Today’s result sees reigning World Champions TOYOTA remain third in the manufacturers’ standings, 95 behind Porsche. Alex, Stéphane and Mike are the leading TOYOTA men in the drivers’ championship, in seventh.
Today’s race got underway in brilliant sunshine and with air temperatures approaching 30°C. Kazuki and Mike were at the wheel of their respective cars on an all-TOYOTA third row and both held position during a clean opening lap.
On the short 5.137km Grand Prix track, traffic was a factor as the LMP1 cars had to fight through the pack on the relatively narrow track, requiring the drivers to find the right balance between aggression and caution around the slower cars.
With plenty of action throughout the field, debris on track caused two full course yellows in the third hour but it was a lonely race for the TS040 HYBRIDs, with fifth and sixth place looking unlikely to change as half distance came and went.
The two 1,000hp TOYOTAs kept up a consistent pace and performed reliably to take the chequered flag with Anthony and Alex at the wheel, as the #17 Porsche won from the #18 sister car.
The second half of the WEC season begins next month, with a trip to Austin, Texas for the Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas on 19 September. That marks the first of four non-European rounds which will decide the championship standings.
Toshio Sato, Team Principal: “The team performed professionally in hot conditions today, with clean pit stops, good race management and solid driving, but unfortunately the result is disappointing. We were not quick enough to challenge. Again, we have seen a very high level of competition in LMP1, with no major mechanical failures, and this shows how tough the battle is. I was impressed to see so many fans, many from Toyota Germany and Toyota Europe, in the grandstands today so I would like to thank them for their support. The European leg of the season is now over so we will push, in Cologne and Japan, to be ready for the final four races. We will stay determined to take any opportunity which comes our way.”
TS040 HYBRID #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Race: 5th, 200 laps, 6 pit stops. Grid: 5th. Fastest lap: 1min 40.207secs
Anthony Davidson: “We did a perfect job today from our side; there was no more that we could have done. Thanks to the engineers and mechanics for a good day’s work, with no issues at all. We are all looking forward to the upcoming races to see if we have some better chances; we are not going to give up pushing. We gave everything today and at least it was good fun trying.”
Sébastien Buemi: “It was a good job from the whole crew. We did what we could and never lost concentration so I am happy with that. We did our best and we had no technical issues. I am satisfied with how we operated today. We cannot be happy with the result. Now we go to the next races and see what possibilities will come.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “It was a lonely race for us and realistically it was only a fight between our two cars. You never know so we didn’t give up and I think we got the most out of our package. It went okay for me; I am quite happy with my stints and my lap times. We will continue to fight and do everything we can.”
TS040 HYBRID #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Race: 6th, 199 laps, 6 pit stops. Grid: 6th. Fastest lap: 1min 40.738secs
Alex Wurz: “It was nice to race in Germany and it was really impressive to have so many people here; that was cool. The race wasn’t perfect for us so we need to look into the details of where we lost some time. We have to stay sharp and always optimise the package we have, that’s our job for the rest of the season.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “We did the best race we could, with full effort and always hoping for an opportunity. We pushed hard and did our maximum without any mistakes. The result is not what we wanted but that’s how it goes sometimes. I have enjoyed the event and it’s been really nice to see how many fans were here today.”
Mike Conway: “It was nice to start the race for the first time and get a feel for how it is. I struggled a bit with car balance in the first stint but when I got back in the car later in the race it felt quite good. I pushed all the way to the end and concentrated on putting in the fastest lap times we could. It went okay but of course we aim for better in Austin.”