TOYOTA GAZOO Racing continues to lead the Le Mans 24 Hours and is part of an exciting battle for victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Stéphane Sarrazin was the last of the three #7 TS050 HYBRID drivers, after Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, to complete his stint and handed over a lead of just over 20 seconds after night fell at Le Mans.
The #8 car of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima was in a close fight with the #1 Porsche for second place. However trouble struck soon after Kazuki handed over to Sébastien. Close to the end of the eighth hour, the car was wheeled into the garage for a replacement front motor and battery.
Earlier in his stint, Kazuki had closed significantly, helped by the same slow zone issues which had earlier hindered the #8 when Anthony was driving. As the seventh hour began, Kazuki closed right up to the second-placed #1 Porsche with some quick lap times.
Yuji was forced to take an additional pit stop early in his stint for a small repair to secure the passenger door, which caused the #9 to fall off the lead lap. But matters improved and he completed a solid first race stint at Le Mans in fourth place.
Nicolas returned to the cockpit of the #9 for a night stint, with Mike now leading in the #7 as repairs continued on the #8.
TS050 HYBRID #7 (Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin)
Grid position: 1st
Stéphane Sarrazin: “It was a difficult stint. I had bad luck with traffic and I also lost 10 seconds when I went through a slow zone and they removed it for the cars behind. But that’s part of the game and we are still pushing. The car feels very good.”
TS050 HYBRID #8 (Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima)
Grid position: 2nd
Kazuki Nakajima: “It’s a pity about the problem; we have to see how long it takes but we will not give up. Before that, it was a good stint for me in terms of the gap to the front. We got a bit lucky with slow zones which reduced the gap a lot. Then I had strong pace compared to the others. “
TS050 HYBRID #9 (Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto, José María López)
Grid position: 5th
Yuji Kunimoto: “My stint had a lot of slow zones which made it difficult, because that is new to me. Traffic is not easy here, and it was also hard to see so well because the sun was so bright. But it went smoothly enough and the car feels consistent and pretty good.”