On the day that the Toyota Gazoo World Rally team won were crowned 2018 Manufacturers championship in Australian, in China, the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Endurance Championship team took a 1-2 finish in challenging conditions at the Six Hours of Shanghai.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez in the No.7 TS050 Hybrid took victory from pole to close the gap in the championship to their team mate’s to five points with three races remaining.
Speaking about the win, Conway said:
It was not an easy race for me in those conditions; visibility was very difficult when it started raining at the end and the tyres were not up to temperature. I’m really happy with the result so big congratulations to the whole team, and thanks to my car crew and team-mates for another solid job. It’s great to win and continue the momentum from Fuji, especially as it’s the last race of the year. Now we will keep pushing over the winter so we can finish the season strongly.
Kamui Kobayashi commented by saying:
The team did a great job and Mike and José did well; I’m really pleased to win again. My stint was a hard one because I came out behind the safety car and there were many other cars from other categories around me in heavy rain with very little visibility. I concentrated on minimising risk and overtaking cleanly, with the belief that the safety car would need to come out again. When it did and we were leading, I just focused on keeping a gap.
Jose Maria Lopez commented by saying:
The team did a fantastic job today in very tricky conditions so thanks a lot to them. It is fantastic to have achieved the win today. From my side it was a short but really hard race. There was a lot of water on the track at the start and, as the first car, I had the advantage of better visibility but I was also the first to reach each of the rivers across the circuit. Fortunately I kept the car on track despite a small mistake at the hairpin.
The No.8 TS050 Hybrid finished the race in second place 1.419s behind the sister car and speaking following the race, Sebastien Buemi commented by saying:
I did the first stint when the conditions were very difficult but our car was strong even in these very wet conditions. Personally I am happy with my driving as I could take the lead from the sister car. I think we had a very quick car and the speed for the victory but the #7 crew had a bit more luck with their pit stops so the final result is a bit disappointing.
Kazuki Nakajima commented on the result by saying:
It was a difficult race in difficult conditions. We had a good car but we had bad luck with our pit stop during the safety car. I think we were unlucky for the second race in a row and I hope the luck will come back to us in the future. The year is over but the WEC season still has three races remaining and we will push to get back into the middle of the podium.”
Fernando Alonso who is preparing for his final Formula One Grand Prix before retiring from the sport next weekend in Abu Dhabi said it was a tough race.
“It was a tough race due to the weather conditions, the amount of water on the track and the safety car periods. Wet weather races are always very stressful, also in terms of visibility. I think we had a good, fast car and did the best we could; we were quite competitive today and could fight for the win. In the end it did not work out but we will try it again next time.”
Toyota’s fourth 1-2 finish of the season sees the team hold a 28 point lead in the manufacturers championship with three races remaining. The next race, the 1000 miles of Sebring takes place from March 13 – 15, 2019.
Speaking about their result in China, Toyota Team President Hisatake Murata commented by saying:
This race was the start of the second half of this season so I am pleased to have another one-two victory, especially in such weather. We got the one-two finish we were aiming for but we found some things which can be improved in the future, when such situations occur again. Finally, I want to give my big congratulations to our friends at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT on winning the World Rally Championship today; it’s a fantastic achievement in just the second season back.”