TOYOTA Racing led from start to finish for the team’s first victory in just its third race with a dominant performance in the Six Hours of Sao Paulo at Interlagos, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Drivers Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre started from pole position in the TS030 HYBRID as the #7 maintained its record of having led every race in which it has competed.
The result marks TOYOTA’s first victory in an FIA world championship race since the 1999 Rally of China. It is 20 years since victory for the TS010 at Monza in 1992, TOYOTA’s last success in international endurance racing.
Today’s victory completes a remarkable journey for the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing. The project to develop a hybrid system for motorsport began in 2006 under Hisatake Murata, now Hybrid Project Leader at TOYOTA Racing.
The project created history in July 2007 when a TOYOTA Supra became the first-ever hybrid winner, in the Tokachi 24 Hours. That pioneering super capacitor technology has been extensively developed, reducing weight and increasing power, leading to the unique powertrain in the TS030 HYBRID.
At Interlagos, Nico took the rolling start in bright sunshine and held the lead into the first corner. He set the pace at the front as he skilfully fought through the traffic before handing over to Alex with just over 90 minutes gone.
Soon after Alex made a fuel stop, an incident down the field caused a short safety car period, helping the #7 extend its lead to over 40 seconds.
At the restart Alex maintained the blistering pace to stretch his advantage to over a minute before handing back to Nicolas with two-and-a-half hours to go. He extended the lead to a complete lap as the final quarter of the race arrived.
The TS030 HYBRID was clearly the fastest car and as the race entered its final hour, Nico handed over to Alex. A very short fuel stop with just a few minutes to go allowed him to take a well-deserved victory by over a minute.
TOYOTA Racing’s next action comes at the Bahrain International Circuit for the Six Hours of Bahrain on 29 September when Alex and Nicolas will again be driving the #7 TS030.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Warm-up: 1st (1min 23.402secs), 10 laps
Race: 1st, 247 laps, 7 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 23.419secs
Alex Wurz: “I am proud to be a TOYOTA driver. TOYOTA has developed this incredible hybrid technology and I think we have shown it today. Our TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing has been simply outstanding. I like Interlagos, a circuit that is really special for me, so it is a great feeling to win here with TOYOTA Racing in only our third race. Thank you to all the team and Nico for their great job. It was not easy and we pushed like crazy. The key was certainly the tyre management and we were able to make the difference in the second stint thanks to our Michelin tyres. Kinoshita san said at Le Mans “you watch, we push”. We will continue in this way during the following races.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “This is a fantastic win for all the team. Since the beginning, we know we have a fast car. After leading at Le Mans we had to work on the reliability. After the podium at Silverstone we had to improve our fuel consumption. We made it. All the team has worked really well since the beginning of the project and this weekend also. Alex did a wonderful job in qualifying to get the pole and during the race we managed the tyres well. The car was handling very well throughout the whole day and the hybrid system gave us again an incredible performance. It is simply wonderful!”
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “This is an incredible day for all of us in the team. To stand on the top step of the podium has been our dream and to achieve this is only our third race is a dream come true. This has been more than a six-hour race because this started for us in January and finishes now in September with our team on the top step of the podium. Thanks to everyone involved in this project; so much hard work has gone into this and victory makes it all worthwhile. Thanks also to Audi for a clean fight; we really enjoyed competing with them and they were very fair. We have huge respect for them and what they have achieved over the past decade and more; to beat such a strong opponent has not been easy. It’s not only a fantastic result for TOYOTA Racing, it also shows how exciting the FIA World Endurance Championship is. We know Audi will come back strongly in the next races so we are looking forward to continuing our close, and genuinely friendly, rivalry.”
Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: “The project to develop a hybrid system for motorsport started back in 2006; at the time it seemed like an almost impossible task. But thanks to the dedication of my colleagues at Motor Sport Division, TOYOTA Motor Corporation’s Hybrid Department, TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH and ORECA, we have turned this dream into a reality. Today the system performed flawlessly and it was very clear how the 300hp of boost made a real difference to our lap times. The hydraulic braking and energy recovery worked in perfect harmony so I am very proud of what we have achieved. To win against tough, experienced opposition like Audi with such an advanced technology is a great credit to everyone involved.”
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “What we have achieved here today is really remarkable. It was an emotional moment to see a TOYOTA crossing the line in P1. The whole team, here at the track and back at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, plus our colleagues in Japan, have given so much to this project. They deserve this success. The race itself went exactly to plan; compared to Silverstone we have been able to manage our fuel consumption much better, which was made easier by our quick pace. Both Alex and Nicolas drove fantastically; they were extremely fast and also very impressive through the traffic. A big thank you also to our pit crew, who delivered seven great pit stops. We will enjoy this success and come back more motivated than ever in Bahrain.”
(Photo: Toyota Racing)