TOYOTA Racing claimed its second consecutive win with a lights-to-flag victory in the Six Hours of Shanghai, the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Having won the last round at Fuji Speedway, the #7 TS030 HYBRID of Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre started from pole position and won by 58.570secs.
Maximum points from the weekend elevated Alex and Nicolas to third place in the drivers’ world championship, despite only contesting six of the eight rounds.
A remarkable debut season has delivered three victories in six races as well as three pole positions and four fastest laps to highlight the impressive performance of the TS030 HYBRID and its innovative TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing.
The hybrid system, using unique super capacitor energy storage technology, is charged in four designated hybrid recovery zones at the Shanghai International Circuit before delivering a 300hp power boost.
Today’s win also marks the first time a TOYOTA team has recorded consecutive victories in an FIA World Championship event since 1994, in the World Rally Championship.
The rolling start was unexpectedly the first action of the day as morning warm-up was cancelled after misty conditions in Shanghai prevented the medical helicopter reaching the circuit.
Nicolas was at the wheel for the start and led into turn one before rapidly stretching his advantage with a clear track in front of him, consistently pulling away throughout his double stint.
He handed over a half-minute lead to Alex who kept up the relentless speed, maintaining the strategy of fitting new tyres at each stop to maximise the TS030 HYBRIDs pace and seize control of the race by the half-distance mark.
Both drivers completed further double stints each, with Alex crossing the flag to take victory and secure a winning end to TOYOTA Racing’s very first season of competition.
Former TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) Chairman Tadashi Yamashina, now President of TOYOTA Motor Engineering and Manufacturing (China) Co. Ltd, joined the podium celebrations as the team representative.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Race: 1st, 191 laps, 7 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 48.815secs
Alex Wurz: “It was a good race for us and a 100% perfect race weekend; from Friday onwards every step we have taken has been correct. That was the absolute maximum and it was good enough to win. Maybe it looked easy on TV but Nicolas and I gave it everything. These races are never simple but we were very determined to win this race for TOYOTA and give everyone extra motivation over the winter. I really enjoyed it today and I couldn’t wish for a better team-mate, although of course we missed Kazuki this weekend. It has been a terrific season for us. At the beginning we had some emotional and performance ups and downs but we improved every day and with every step. That is what counts and that’s why we ended the season as race winners.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “We had a really good weekend; after first practice we have been fastest in all sessions. The car was great and we pushed throughout the race. Everyone at TOYOTA Racing did a fantastic job today. It has been a pleasure to be part of this team and a pleasure to share the drive with Alex, and also Kazuki when he has been with us. Everything has got better and better as the season has gone on. At the beginning we had a new car, new engine, new hybrid system and new team from all over the world. It could have been difficult but it has been a great team effort and we have had a superb second half of the season. The pace we have shown is very encouraging for next year but we will have to work very hard this winter because Audi will try to respond, that’s for sure.”
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “Today has been a great performance from the whole team, with the right strategy, some excellent pit stops and fantastic drives from Alex and Nicolas. At the end of a rewarding season, I would like to thank all involved for their tremendous effort. Three wins and three pole positions in our first season exceeds our expectations so we can be very satisfied. We have enjoyed this first season, particularly the close competition with Audi. Congratulations to Andre Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler on winning the drivers’ title; both Audis have been formidable opponents and we look forward to battling again next season. Finally, congratulations to REBELLION Racing on their impressive season; they thoroughly deserved to win the LMP1 private teams’ title as well as Petit Le Mans; TMG is proud to supply their TOYOTA engine.”