Toyota Says It Has No Room for Mistakes at Le Mans
With Audi and now Porsche out of the World Endurance Championship’s hybrid LMP1 program, Toyota remains the only manufacturer in the top class, leading many to believe it would have no true competition in the championship or at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That feeling seemed to be reinforced when Toyota easily scored a 1-2 finish at the season-opening 6 Hours of Spa last month, but the Japanese outfit says that competition from the privateer teams, which are running non-hybrid LMP1-spec cars, is tougher than it appears.
“The pressure is a bit different now there’s no Audi or Porsche, but I think we need to be careful,” said Toyota’s LMP1 director Rob Leupen. “We’re not in a situation where we’re just going to cruise and win.”
Toyota has had infamous reliability problems at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two years ago, Kazuki Nakajima’s leading #7 car broke down with only five minutes to go and last year, all three cars experienced issues, with two having to retire from the race.
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The 2017 race was especially gut-wrenching as the Toyota TS050 Hybrid had been the clear favorite to win it all after setting a new lap record the day before. Thus despite having the quickest car, Toyota is still chasing that elusive Le Mans victory.
“We can’t afford to make a single mistake,” Leupen added. “Last year we showed we were ahead and yet we still didn’t pull it off…Our problem is that we’ve always come across certain things that we didn’t expect. This year we’ve worked even more intensively to prevent that.”
“Quality control has been a major theme for us…Of course we have to be better prepared. We’ve been doing this for seven years. We should have everything sorted out.”
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