TOYOTA GAZOO Racing earned a one-two finish at its home race following an eventful and rain-affected 6 Hours of Fuji, the seventh round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima won their third race of the season in the #8 TS050 HYBRID, TOYOTA’s fifth victory in six events at Fuji Speedway.
Today’s win with the 1,000hp TS050 HYBRID comes at a special time in the history of hybrid technology; it is the 20th anniversary weekend of the launch of the Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 car took second place on a day when the TS050 HYBRID showed its strong performance in wet conditions.
Persistent rain throughout the morning meant the race began behind the safety car, with Kamui at the wheel of the #7 and Sébastien in the #8, but after 12 minutes the green flags waved.
Rain intensified and fog descended on Fuji Speedway, causing several interruptions to the race. The first came on 40 minutes with a safety car period, then 40 minutes later the race was red flagged, with the #8 running second and the #7 third.
Immediately after the race resumed, the two TS050 HYBRIDs took over first and second, setting up a fight for victory with Porsche #1 which was regularly interrupted by safety cars due to rain, fog and accidents.
The TS050 HYBRIDs had a speed advantage over their rivals in heavy wet conditions but with differing fuel strategies and any advantage removed during safety cars, the final order of the podium was unpredictable throughout.
But with the 75% mark approaching, after which full World Championship points would be awarded, more heavy fog came and another safety car was called. At that point Kazuki led in the #8 with Mike second in the #7.
Visibility was too poor, particularly in the first sector, so the red flags were waved again, with the race not restarting. That came a few laps before a planned driver change for the #8 and therefore meant Anthony unfortunately did not have the chance to race.
The #7 car overcame adversity to earn the runners-up spot; José had earlier needed an unscheduled pit stop to change steering wheel due to a problem activating the windscreen wiper.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing now heads to the penultimate round of the season, the 6 Hours of Shanghai on 5 November still with an outside chance of both World Championships. TOYOTA trails Porsche by 58.5 points in the manufacturers’ standings while Sébastien and Kazuki are 39 adrift of the Porsche #2 in the drivers’.
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “The #8 guys did a fantastic job and deserved their win, but actually every driver did well because it was really tough out there. I want to thank the team for their big effort to improve after a difficult Saturday. Fuji is a very impressive event; it has been my first time to race here and now I can see why it’s so special. We will enjoy this result and look forward to the next one.”