Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global
Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

#8 Toyota received "big damage" from squirrel hit at Le Mans

Toyota has revealed that its #8 GR010 HYBRID received heavy damage after running over a squirrel while leading the Le Mans 24 Hours.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

In the 16th hour of the race, Ryo Hirakawa was seen rapidly losing time to the chasing #51 Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi, the Japanese driver’s entire 12s advantage being wiped out in the course of a single stint.

When Hirakawa brought the #8 Toyota back into the pits, the team was forced to change the entire front-end of the car, allowing the #51 Ferrari that had stopped at the same time to move into the lead.

The #8 Toyota shared by Hirakawa, Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi remained in the hunt for victory despite that setback, even trading positions with the Ferrari after it stalled in the pits later on, but the GR010 Hybrid wasn’t able to match the pace of the 499P thereafter, with a spin for Hirakawa in the penultimate hour sealing the deal for the Italian marque.

Speaking after Toyota’s first defeat at Circuit de la Sarthe since 2017, technical director Pascal Vasselon explained that Hirakawa’s pace was severely compromised when he ran over a squirrel while leading the race. 

“There have been some windows where we were sometimes dominating Ferrari,” he said. “There is a logic behind that. 

“Just after one of these moments where we were competitive, Ryo has hit a squirrel. It was probably not a very small one because it has done big damage to the front end. 

“He was in trouble until the end of the stint when we could change the front end.”

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

The #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez retired from the race when Kobayashi was unlucky to be involved in a incident with the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Louis Prette and the #35 Alpine LMP2 car of Memo Rojas at Tertre Rouge during the night.

According to Vasselon, Toyota faced the possibility of neither of its cars making it to the finish, with the engine temperature on the #8 GR010 HYBRID rising abnormally during the night due to debris blocking off the cooling areas.

“At that moment, we really thought we would lose the two cars because, at the same time [as Kobayashi’s incident], we had the engine temperature going sky high on the #8,” he explained.

“We had no indication of what was happening. There was nothing visible from outside. The aero figures were good. 

“We decided to remove the front end, change it and have a look. There was a big piece of Kevlar which was stuck inboard of the suspension, but blocking the flow of the cooler. We could remove it and keep going."

Read Also:

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Johnson: “My heart is full” as Garage 56 NASCAR hits Le Mans target
Next article Iron Dames admit missing Le Mans GTE Am podium “painful”

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global