TOYOTA GAZOO Racing suffered disappointment in the fifth round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) despite a podium finish in the 6 Hours of Mexico.
Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 TS050 HYBRID earned the team’s fifth podium of the season with third place in Mexico City, but that did not mask the team’s frustration at not being able to challenge Porsche. The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López finished fourth, with both cars one lap behind the winning Porsche #2.
Despite using the high-downforce TS050 HYBRIDs, race performance was compromised by a relative lack of downforce in the thin air at 2,285m altitude. That put both cars at a disadvantage compared to the opposition and this became evident from the start.
In the opening stint, Mike in the #7 led the TOYOTA challenge from third with Sébastien close behind in fourth, but both dropped back from the leaders.
Soon after the 90-minute mark, Sébastien took advantage of traffic to pass Mike and moved the #8 up to third, although he had a scare soon after when the #28 car hit him in a slow corner, earning the LMP2 driver a warning from race stewards.
The half distance point was passed with José María at the wheel of the #7 and Kazuki in the #8, with both cars taking turns to hold third place as the momentum switched between the two.
When Kamui and Anthony took their stints behind the wheel, they experienced the first full course yellow of the race, when a baseball from the nearby sports complex found its way on track with 90 minutes remaining.
Another followed for debris with an hour remaining and, as the race entered its final 35 minutes, a few rain drops began to fall but the predicted downpour never materialised.
In order to maximise the points total for the World Championship-chasing #8 crew, the team controlled the final stint and Kamui eased off to allow Sébastien to take the chequered flag in third despite a short fuel stop in the final minutes.
The team does not need to wait long for the opportunity to improve on today’s result, with the sixth round of the season taking place across the United States border at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on 16 September.
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “In qualifying we managed a very good performance so we hoped that we could be competitive today, but we didn’t have the pace. We did the best we could and did a good clean race. I am happy with my performance, as well as from Mike, Kamui and the whole team.”