Toyota drivers relishing chance of equal fight at Le Mans

Sebastien Buemi and Mike Conway are relishing the prospect of a evenly-matched fight between their Toyotas without success handicaps at this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Toyota drivers relishing chance of equal fight at Le Mans

They are looking forward to the prospect of another close Le Mans battle between the two Toyota TS050 Hybrids in a race not covered by the system of penalties introduced in the LMP1 class for the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

That means they will go into the double-points race without any handicaps for the first time since the opening round of the campaign at Silverstone in September 2019.

Read Also:

Conway, who shares the #7 Toyota with Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, told Motorsport.com: "I am looking forward to it because if you go in there equal, there are no excuses. It is down to the drivers and the car crew to do the best job they can. 

"That's what you always want — a fair fight. May the best man win."

Buemi, who races #8 together with Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima, is also "looking forward to having a close fight with the sister car".

"The level of competition we had [at Le Mans] in 2018 and '19 was amazing," he said. "It was good to be part of that, even if fighting against your teammates is different — a bit more tricky, I would say — than racing with Porsche and Audi."

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso

Photo by: Paul Foster

The Swiss driver added that that "it has felt sometimes that we've been racing on our own" over the course of the 2019/20 WEC campaign. 

That's a reference to the performance differentials the success handicaps have created between the two Toyotas, as well as between the Japanese cars and the Rebellion R-13 that won this season's Shanghai and Austin WEC rounds.

Buemi said he understood the philosophy behind the handicaps, which was devised to close up the field and the championship battle, but suggested that the system is "too extreme". 

The equation used to calculate the handicaps is based on a penalty of 0.01255s per kilometre for each point between the cars in the championship table. The co-efficient was originally announced as 0.008s before being increased. 

"The ratio they chose is too powerful and has meant you don't have proper races," Buemi said. "Most of the time we've had the Rebellion, one Toyota and then the other Toyota each doing its own race — there was no fight between us.

"If you are slowed by three seconds and the sister car by 2.8s, then there's no battle. I found that a bit of a shame."

The handicaps kicked in for round two of the 2019/20 WEC at Fuji in October 2019, although the two Toyotas were equal again at round three at Shanghai last November because they were level on points at the top of the championship. 

They were both penalised by 2.74s whereas the solo Rebellion that won the race with Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato was pegged back by 0.89s.

The performance of the Toyotas is lowered under the system by reductions in engine and hybrid performance, while the privateers are slowed by the addition of ballast.

shares
comments

Related video

Porsche reveals special Le Mans 24 Hours liveries

Previous article

Porsche reveals special Le Mans 24 Hours liveries

Next article

Jarvis predicts LMP2 car on overall Le Mans podium

Jarvis predicts LMP2 car on overall Le Mans podium
Load comments
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans Prime

The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans

Kevin Magnussen will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend alongside father Jan in LMP2. But the Danes won't be the only ex-F1 drivers to appear in the hotly contested category this year.

Le Mans
Aug 20, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Prime

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload Prime

How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload

The 23-car GTE Am field promises to be one of the most open in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with the added jeopardy of managing the enthusiasm of amateur drivers to boot, as Absolute Racing Porsche driver Marco Seefried explains

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow Prime

Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow

Many were quick to dismiss Glickenhaus when the boutique American sportscar firm's entry into the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours was announced. It's all-new LMH racer, powered by an engine built by a rally specialist, goes in as the underdog against Toyota but the mathematical odds suggest that it has more than just a faint hope of success.

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car Prime

How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car

The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and was considered the heavy favourite to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen.

Le Mans
Aug 15, 2021