Toyota "running out of words" to console unlucky #7 Le Mans crew

Toyota’s LMP1 team says it is “running out of words” to console its #7 crew after another near-miss at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Listen to this article

For the second year in a row the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez proved to be the quicker of the two Toyotas in the race, only to stumble over mechanical problems.

The #7 car was comfortably leading the race during the night when it suffered from a problem with the exhaust manifold. Toyota was forced to change the entire right-hand side turbo and exhaust assembly, which cost the #7 crew 30 minutes.

Kobayashi, Conway and Lopez dropped to fourth and only salvaged a podium after a late issue for the #3 Rebellion entry.

While Toyota celebrated a hat-trick of wins at Le Mans with the outgoing TS050 LMP1 hybrid in the hands of Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley, the team was also heartbroken for its unlucky trio.

“I’m definitely running out of words to talk to the drivers of car #7,” Toyota’s technical director Pascal Vasselon said after the race. “Car #7 was clearly a bit faster than car #8. Two times in a row they would deserve to win and something happened that was beyond their control, so I feel very sorry for the #7 drivers.

"They do everything right, they prepare well, they are fast and every time something goes wrong that is not in their hands. The entire team feels sorry for them."

Read Also:

Toyota’s team principal Rob Leupen revealed the #7 car’s exhaust problem hit the drivers hard at the time.

“It was hard to take at that moment, because they were more dominant than last year, they were over a lap clear and were doing really well,” Leupen told Motorsport.com. “You try to console them, but they don’t really want that at that moment. It was difficult, they all have a different way of dealing with it.

“They were stronger all week, but somehow the #8 car seems to have a little bit more luck at Le Mans. I can’t explain it."

Vasselon assessed that the exhaust problem that cost the #7 car seven laps was caused by a build quality issue and also explained the other gremlins for both cars.

“We had an exhaust failure quite early in the race so it’s clearly a quality issue on the right hand side exhaust,” he said. “Apart from that we had a lot of racing things. We had a puncture on car #8.

"Then with car #8 we had a strange problem, debris which blocked the brake duct. Then the debris caught fire and burnt the inside of the brake duct. We had to change to brake duct itself, we did not change the brakes."

Vasselon also explained the floor issue that prevented the dejected #7 crew from making much progress in the final third of the race.

He said: “In Mike’s last stint, the car in front lost a carbon part which went below ours and damaged the floor. We tried to repair it but clearly it would have been a very long repair, so we decided to keep running and car #7 lost performance in the last third of the race."

Despite the mixed emotions Leupen was happy with the TS050’s final Le Mans appearance, ahead of a switch to the all-new Hypercars in 2021.

“It didn’t always go the way we planned, but it was a good race,” the Dutchman added. "It’s a shame there were no fans and no large entourage, which makes Le Mans special.

“But it was a great era with high tech cars, a lot of emotions and nice races. First with Audi and Porsche, and then with Rebellion as well.

“Next year will be very exciting and different with the new Hypercars."

shares
comments

Related video

Senna: P2 for Rebellion an "incredible achievement"
Previous article

Senna: P2 for Rebellion an "incredible achievement"

Next article

Hanson thought United had "thrown away" LMP2 win

Hanson thought United had "thrown away" LMP2 win
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Prime

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, are arguably the greatest sportscars of all time.

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Prime

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans Prime

How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
When the moribund GTE Pro class stole the show at Le Mans Prime

When the moribund GTE Pro class stole the show at Le Mans

As the GT class faces a time of transition, it’s a good time to recall the greatest hits of the GTE Pro years that pitched manufacturers and top drivers into the tightest of duels.

Le Mans
Jun 9, 2022
The great Le Mans garagistes that challenged factory might Prime

The great Le Mans garagistes that challenged factory might

Glickenhaus is the latest in a line of small-time constructors to take on the big names. Here are some of the finest in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours

Le Mans
Jun 9, 2022
How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future Prime

How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
Why a fifth Toyota win at Le Mans is far from a certainty in 2022 Prime

Why a fifth Toyota win at Le Mans is far from a certainty in 2022

Toyota is the clear favourite for its fifth Le Mans 24 Hours success in a row, but not as much as it was in 2021. Although its opposition is unchanged, the credentials of Glickenhaus and Alpine have now been proven, while Balance of Performance tweaks have also served to level the playing field. Here's what we can expect at the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 90th edition of the endurance classic.

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Prime

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Motorsport.com hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022