TOYOTA GAZOO Racing endured a painful Le Mans 24 Hours in which two of its TS050 HYBRIDs did not reach the chequered flag while the remaining car finished ninth.
An accident put the #9 of Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto and José María López out just minutes after the #7 stopped, when it was hit from behind by an LMP2 car, causing a puncture and damaging the hydraulics. That left the car unable to shift gear and it retired on track just a few hundred metres from the pits at 1.35am.
You don’t choose to win Le Mans, Le Mans chooses you. We hope one day it will choose us. We’ll be back. pic.twitter.com/cf3C6Xxnab
— TOYOTA WEC Team (@Toyota_Hybrid) June 18, 2017
The race, round three of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), was won by the #2 Porsche from the #38 and #13 ORECA LMP2 cars, following a technical issue for the #1 Porsche, which retired from an 11-lap lead.
It represented a bitterly disappointing end to a race which the team had begun with strong hopes of a first TOYOTA victory at Le Mans in 19 appearances since its debut in 1985.
The team will regroup and return to WEC action more determined than ever when the series continues with the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on 16 July.
Toshio Sato, Team President: “The whole team is devastated by what happened here, after all the hard work and effort over the last months to come to Le Mans with such a competitive car. Our pace was very good all week and we were leading a tough fight with Porsche. The drivers, engineers and mechanics performed superbly this week and I would like to thank them. Of course, we sincerely congratulate Porsche on their victory because undoubtedly they deserved to win today. For TOYOTA, we must leave Le Mans again without the winner’s trophy, despite the amazing support from the fans here. We will analyse what went wrong because we cannot accept a double retirement like that during the night. We will come back stronger and more determined than ever; our Le Mans challenge will continue.”
José María López: “We knew when we came here that it is a cruel race. There is a lot of work goes into this and we came here with a lot of strength. At this moment I only think about coming back next year stronger. We will fight this race and show we are strong enough. I am proud of everyone in the team, the mechanics, engineers and my team-mates. They did a fantastic job. I have no regrets.”