Published on June 18th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair0
Akio Toyoda’s Comments Regarding Toyota’s Win at Le Mans
“Thank you for driving all out!” Please let me direct these words to our drivers, who drove our cars for the longest distance at Le Mans, finally in our 20th challenge. At the same time, I would like to say the same to our cars, completing 388 laps, approximately 5,300 km.
And “thank you very much for letting us and our drivers drive all out!” I want to say this to all fans who have supported us for a long time, our partners and suppliers who have battled together with us, and all the team members and the people related to our team. I want to express my sincere appreciation to all.
In our history we never won Le Mans, just watching the rear of our rivals, so we devoted ourselves to developing new technology, believing if we make a car that drives faster than theirs, we could win.
However, we could not win our 19th race last year. After the race, I raised my voice to the team: “We can’t win Le Mans if we only care about making a fast car! What we do not have is strength. We are not a strong team!” Then, they re-built the operation asking why they didn’t have strength from the ground up, and finally reached the conclusion that what was missing was the idea of kaizen, or continuous improvement.
There is every detailed operation to make and drive a car, and each person needs to consider how to prevent any mistakes. Then they will find out what to do next. They spent the year working on improvement, trying to acquire the “strength”.
Porsche, who we did not beat, maybe already had such strength. We could not compete with them again this year, but we would like again to take this opportunity to show our sincere appreciation to those great rivals.
Before the race starts this year, I received a message from one of the team members. “I feel uneasy this year. We have continued to improve throughout the year, but finally I realized that kaizen is continuous, that it never ends because there is always room for improvement. I think that’s why I feel uneasy. We will keep doing our best and continue kaizen with my team members until we get to the chequered flag. Morizo san, please keep supporting us during the race.”
Having read this, I felt that they are getting stronger. So I really wanted to see them win, and decided to fight together with them even though I was in Japan.
We are developing a road car from a race car competing in the Le Mans. Kaizen is ever-continuing―it is a common idea in TOYOTA and now racing team members also understand it linked to victory, so I believe that we took one step closer to the realization of the project.
Finally, we won 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. I want to enjoy the great feeling today with all fans that have supported us for long time. Of course this is another step towards the next challenge so I would like to ask for your continuous support from now on too. Thank you very much.